Sunday Stars Recap - We Are All Val Nickushkin
We are all Val Nichushkin. This week gave us what may be the best internet moment for the franchise since the famous ‘Our No. 9 Got the Job Done’ twitter war.
During the first intermission in Los Angeles, FSSW aired a video that showed bloopers from various takes of a Stars holiday greetings promo. We, as fans, got a behind the scenes look at just how difficult it must be for Antoine Roussel and Valeri Nichushkin to communicate on and off the ice. For those of you that haven’t seen it, here you go: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9haKqNHqJ0.
Internet moments are great, huh? It feels wrong to laugh, because I don’t think he really knows where he is, what he’s doing, or the names of the people in the room. However, it is still unbelievably funny. If any Stars fan was having a tough time enjoying their holiday, that had to have helped.
Anyways, back to the real issue at hand: the Stars managed to take 5 out of 6 possible points from their opponents this week.
It started on December 23rd, when Dallas visited Los Angeles, and beat one of the hottest teams and the hottest goaltender in the league, 5-2. Martin Jones, goalie for the LA Kings, has seen his first NHL action in the wake of Jonathan Quick’s absence. However, Jones went on a remarkable run, winning his first 8 decisions while the Kings ran through seemingly every opponent that they played. His streak was halted when the Dallas Stars rolled through town.
Jamie Benn posted a goal and two assists while Tyler Seguin added a goal and assist of his own, which accounted for most of what Martin Jones let in. Kari Lehtonen added a modest .938 save percentage, and the Stars rebounded well from their disappointing shootout loss in San Jose on the Saturday night before. While the Stars have gotten a fair amount of production from their depth players, seeing that kind of play on the first line has to excite you in ways I would prefer not to expound on. Any win against a former divisional foe has to feel good, especially when it is against those cocky folks from Los Angeles. The Stars then went into the holiday break without much to fell negative about. Happy is good.
A huge #ConferenceIII matchup awaited them on home ice when they decided to finally play hockey again: a rematch with the unbelievably good Nashville Predators.
Okay, I’m being overdramatic, but still, they needed to avenge that poor performance they decided to display in Nashville a few weeks prior (3-1 loss). They did exactly that, beating the Predators in nearly every category of the game, and cruising to a 4-1 win.
Erik Cole showed the kind of form he had when he posted 36 goals in Montreal during the 2011-2012 season, scoring two goals. The second was a thing of beauty, with Cole taking a wonderful pass from Alex Goligoski, and proceeding to put it past Carter Hutton at about the speed that the Fiddler-Whitney-Horcoff line plays. Goligoski added 26+ minutes of ice time and registered two assists, earning him third star of the game. I think the Neal/Niskanen-Goligoski trade is starting to finally pay off. This is exciting stuff. I’m only being somewhat sarcastic, too.
Finally, in another game against a divisional opponent that had beat the Stars in the previous matchup, Dallas welcomed the St. Louis Blues and Brendan Morrow to the American Airlines Center for the first time in 2013-2014. This was Morrow’s first game back in Dallas after being traded last season. His career in Dallas was one of the franchise’s best, including a multitude of memories and moments that Stars fans will remember forever. There was a videoboard tribute to him that occurred during the first TV timeout of the game. It was beautiful and we all cried a lot.
Anyways, though the Stars found themselves down 2-0 and battled back to make it 2-2, the game ended with 10.4 seconds left in OT on a Kevin Shattenkirk PP goal; a 3-2 final. Seriously though, who in the world would make their last name ‘Shattenkirk’? It sounds like the future of badminton. But hey, the Stars scored a home PP goal, and it could very well be the last one we see all season, so be thankful.
In all seriousness, taking a point from the Blues is more than okay, even if they were out Steen and Backes. That is an unbelievably talented team, and managing a point when you were down two goals in the second period is very respectable, and a good way to close out the week. The Stars are slowly creeping up to not only a Western Conference wild card spot, but also the third spot in the Central Division (#ConferenceIII). Like I said, this is exciting stuff.
It all starts again on Tuesday night, though, with a New Years Eve showdown against the cocky LA Kings. You know I’ll be there, watching intently, and making everyone around me rather uncomfortable.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Alex Goligoski registered 30 minutes of ice time against St. Louis, and hasn’t played fewer than 22:45 in the month of December. That’s a lot.