Blackhawks 4, Stars 3 (shootout)
It is not a win, but against one of the best teams in the league, the Stars have to be okay with leaving Chicago with one point. Sure it is not a win on the road like this team needs to start getting, but it was a better effort on the road, and they kept themselves in the game and forced it to overtime against one of the top 5 teams in the league. The Chicago Blackhawks though get the win in the 5th round of the shootout over the Dallas Stars. And all this while there was constant trade rumors and activity all evening surrounding the Stars (more on that shortly). Despite being out shot by Chicago, something the Hawks to do everyone, the Stars held in the game and this doesn’t kill the momentum like a normal loss. They can say we came in, checked, played decent defense on the road, Turco was good and got one of two points out of it.
Marty Turco again put forth an effort of a #1 goalie. The first goal he gave was one he probably shouldn’t have given up, but Kane seems to always play amazing when Dallas and Chicago play each other. And he kept this team in the game for the final two periods. The 3rd goal wasn’t all his fault, just moved a little to much on Hossa’s shot, and then when it took the bad bounce of the end boards he was out of place. But he made a great save on a ‘Hawks breakaway at the end of the 2nd and held down the fort once Chicago went up 3-2 to keep Dallas within a single shot of forcing OT, and the top line got that goal for him. If he is here for the rest of the year or not, he is playing his best hockey over the 4 games and could be trying to show he can still play.
Loui Eriksson, Brad Richards, James Neal. That should be enough said right there if you have watched this team this year. Last night Neal sets-up Ribeiro for the Powerplay goal early and then the top line gets the other two goals for the Stars. It goes to show how good Richards is and why Dallas did trade for him (although having Smith right now would be nice), as all this year all he does it stack up points and help Eriksson and Neal continue to grow and look better. Neal takes the number 3 star of the night with a goal and 2 assist, and would have been 1 or 2 if Dallas wins. Also Ribeiro looked good in his first night back (everyone is saying that), he pockets the PP goal and played decent minutes and said he felt good out there. So it appears he is back and that can help this team a lot if he comes back and continues to play right away at his normal level.
Now onto the trade happenings and rumors:
The Stars pulled the trigger on a trade last night while the team was in Chicago playing, trading prospect Ivan Vishnevskiy and a 4th round draft pick to Atlanta for former 2nd Over-all draft pick in 2002, goalie Kari Lehtonen. It is a move that started to be rumored and twitted about (follow at @blackoutdallas for updates, news, and thoughts as things happen) in different circles an hour or so before the game an by the time the teams got to the 3rd period it was known and all over ESPN & TSN.
It is an interesting move for the Stars because although Lehtonen has shown potential and was in goal for Atlanta’s only trip to the playoffs a couple of seasons ago, he has spent the last couple of years fighting injuries. He is still 26, and is a restricted free agent this summer so Dallas can work something out with him and probably sign him to a one or two year deal for a lot less then the are paying Turco currently to see if he can re-gain his health and once again show he can be a starting goalie in the NHL. In the 06-07 season he was 34-24-9 with a 2.79 GAA and .912 SV% on a not that good team that got into the playoffs and got run out as quick as they got there. Dallas may have been looking at him, but this move could have happened because the new GM in Montreal said in his first week that he does not “want” to move Price or Halak, both of which Dallas probably would like to have. Visknevskiy is a good prospect and many are right away upset that Dallas gave him away, but in the handful of games in the AHL I have seen him in and the short times in the preseason and handful up in Dallas, I have not been that impressed with him. Vish can handle the puck and is a good skater most of the time, but for a defenseman that supposedly the team wanted to be in NHL next year his defense is lacking. And that is not what this team needs right now as they need to improve the defense. He may turn out to have a good career, but Vish apparently also had been surpassed in the managements’ and scouts’ eyes. Word is some think Larsen, who is playing in Europe right now, may be closer to being NHL ready and new GM Joe Nieuwendyk his more of a fan of Larsen.
The truth is once again only time will tell, but Dallas gets a goalie they think could be a #1 goalie for them down the road (next year or the year after) for a prospect who some regard highly and others think may only turn out to be a low-level NHL blue-liner who can move the puck but is not a strong defender. I think it works for both teams. Now what does Dallas do with the two they have? Rumors started before this trade came out all the way the Philly and Dallas are talking about a deal to move Turco, and although Chicago says they are fine at goalie, fans want a move and rumors are popping up that they may have shown a little interest in trading for Turco for a hope at having a goalie with some playoff experience and his expiring contract. But Dallas could keep him because he is playing better and could help the team push into the playoffs, and his expiring contract would leave the Stars money to give long term deal to some of the growing talent like Neal and maybe bring in a free agent. But both Turco and Auld are free agents and its likely neither is back next year, or maybe just Auld along with Lehtonen