It is the day before Thanksgiving, and technically, I owe you a Oakland Raiders "Analyze the Enemy". But, with much family in the house, I think I will gracefully decline, and offer a Thanksgiving Morning edition of "Game Plan" so check back tomorrow morning.
However, to help you kill off a few moments this morning, I thought I would give you what I did write for my DallasStars.com blog today -
2 in a row? Excellent. Now, how about 3?
On Monday night, the Stars took down a spirited crew from Carolina who were happy to engage in another physical confrontation that barely made it 1 shift before the fists started flying as Brenden Morrow and Tim Gleason got at it 25 seconds into the game. I always feel there must be a good story behind a fight before anyone breaks a sweat, but regardless of any bad blood, it got the arena going quickly.
Seen Brenden on a mission early was a welcome sight, as James Neal continued his suspension. Therefore, it was vital that this team not sleep-walk through another game with an Eastern Conference floor mat, and the Stars put together a solid, 60 minutes of hockey in beating the beat-up Hurricanes, 2-0.
Aside from the Morrow fight, the true talking point of the game was the Stars killing of a 5-3 power play early in the 3rd period, in a spot where Carolina had plenty of time (1:38) to get a momentum turning PP goal. But to the extreme credit of those killing off the penalty, they got it done.
I am interested in telling you who was a part of that, just in case the excitement clouded your memory, because the arena was going bananas after that kill.
Trevor Daley spent 1:47 on one shift helping to kill off that penalty. In fact, he had 24 shifts on Monday night, and in the 3rd period was forced to stay out there and kill off the game for 8:21 of the 3rd. Compared to the 6:19 in the 1st and 5:29 in the 2nd, you could see that Robidas and Daley were being stretched as the game went on to kill off the game in which Nik Grossman had to sit out.
Anyway, the 5-3 was a lot of Daley, Robidas, and Fistric - with the forward being Loui Eriksson and Jere Lehtinen. I wonder if Eriksson will start to get some sniffs for the Selke award as top defensive forward in the NHL in the years to come? Lehtinen obviously knows all about that trophy, but the way Eriksson has developed, I think people are going to start and suggest his 2-way play deserves recognition. The Stars certainly do, as he is always asked to help kill off games in big spots - and what bigger spot than an extended 5-3 kill in the 3rd period.
Also, Brad Richards is on quite a stretch of amazing hockey - so much so that some of us may not realize it. 3 players in the NHL have more points than Richards right now. Let me repeat. 3 players in the NHL have more points than Brad Richards: Anze Kopitar in Los Angeles (33), Marian Gaborik of the Rangers (32), and Joe Thornton in San Jose (32). And there you have it. Richards, in just 21 games has 28 points, putting him on a career high pace. At the same time, let's not act like we are too surprised; he has scored 87 points in his first 89 games with the Stars, so the quality is surely apparent.
Since the day of the trade, 2/27/08, Brad Richards has turned out nearly a point a game. Mike Ribeiro has nearly done the same trick - except Ribeiro hasn't missed extended time with injuries, too. Ribs has 107 points in 117 games, Eriksson has 90 points in 120 games, and Richards 87 points in 89 games.
That trio has put the Stars in the middle of a lot of entertaining games along the way, and they continue to light the lamp at a furious pace. When you have scorers like that, you always have a chance. I wonder if Brad Richards can stay in the scoring race all season. That would be most impressive, indeed.
Tonight, Blues and Stars at 7pm. Note the early start time and get there even a bit earlier to celebrate along with both teams the induction of Brett Hull into the Hall of Fame in a pre-game ceremony at 6:55 pm.
3 in a row?