For a look at the Stars, check out the morning preview at Defending Big D, where Son of Nystrom continues to grow a new legend after being picked up from Minnesota to be the Stars' cap mule after the Rangers waived Sean Avery and left the Stars in a cap floor fix, ensuring Avery is the gift that keeps on giving.
We'll have our standard preview up a little later -- regulars, leave your FIG pick over here -- but below is some additional coverage from last night's game, some post-game interview clips, and a nice set of tips for the hesitantly stats-inclined.
Last Night's Game [SO: Blackhawks 4 (1-0), Islanders 4 (0-1)]
Coverage from last night:
- You know the teams are in different strata when one side is happy to put up four goals and come back twice against the home team, and that home team's fans are agonizing over defensive flaws -- and how badly they miss Brian Campbell. [Second City Hockey]
- Sean O'Donnell, who reminded us he is still alive and can pass the puck okay last night: "The win was nice, but it's not the kind of hockey we want to play." [Chicago Tribune]
- Newsday's Arthur Staple captured that theme as well, with the team happy and finding progress in going to the shootout with the Hawks. At the end he also had that quote from Montoya mentioned in the recap, about how exciting playing in his hometown was ... but he's glad it's over.
- From Newsday's advance sidebar, I honestly do not understand the headline ("finally?"): Islanders' Grabner finally a danger again
- Schultz's recap over at IPB.
- Hornick's Skinny at the official site.
- From yesterday, more of Montoya talking about starting in his home [official site] and for CSN Chicago.
- A little more on the Hawks switching Patrick Kane back to wing last night, after 24 games at center.
One of the reasons for switching Kane back is their desire to see Marcus Kruger in that role. I highlight that again only so we note it for the future, when several center-groomed Isles prospects (Ryan Strome anyone?) potentially face the same. None of them are Kane, of course, and we've already seen the Josh Bailey at Wing Chronicles, but it's good to get a look at other teams' experiments lest we lose our heads over four games.
In Which Jack Capuano Calls the Shootout 'the Skills Competition'
I know cosmetically that sounds like an excuse for an OTL, but I love it. What many will not love is that he was not so cut-to-the chase about declaring Al Montoya his #1, but I don't care there. Just keep playing him and you can call him whatever you want (and avoid what usually ends up being a fan/media semantic trap):
In Which Al Montoya Wonders Where *That* Team Came From
"I don't know ... earlier in the season we would have stayed hemmed in" after the second period. Also some words from P.A. Parenteau and Kyle Okposo. Okposo talked about changing the neutral zone approach during the second intermission, and also praised the
new #1 Montoya:
All videos from the MSG highlights page on the Isles official site.
A Little Help with Stats with Funny Names
I missed this over the recent holiday, but if you've ever wanted to dabble in Behind the Net-style statistics from the venerable and terrifying Gabe Desjardins but are intimidated by all those freaking tables, here is a great primer on how to drill it down to just a few essentials to get a read on a player. Even if you think your eyes tell you all you need to know about an Islander, you still could find this useful when measuring players on other teams.
And just to prove that people who look at advanced hockey stats aren't robots who lack truly twisted senses of humor, here is a completely different sort of team ranking that only Battle of California could come up with. [Standard warnings: Movie clip contains NSFW language. Topic is potentially callous, so if you're easily offended you should probably just not click on BOC links here; on the other hand, if you've ever laughed at the team name "Predators," then this link is for you..]
Random: Grades, NHL Realignment, Who Starts Iginla Rumors?
Meanwhile, in avoiding stats and going with gut, here are the ESPN first quarter grades. I don't object to the grades so much as the "trending" line. Shouldn't the Blue Jackets, who already hit rock bottom, at least be trending sideways or something?
Apparently Canadian mainstream media ignited some Jarome Iginla trade rumors this week, but GM Jay Feaster blamed it on blogs. Which is funny, because Flames blogs called the rumors what they were -- the same throw-Avery-against-the-wall-to-see-what-sticks from the same usual MSM suspects. I'm actually not clamoring for "respect" or anything like that -- blogs are just a medium, and can be anything from very serious to Battle of California to openly wondering if Frans Nielsen is a deity -- but I do think it's a shame that mainstream rumor mongers get a free pass from team executives who instead blame some nefarious, dark "other" known as "bloggers in their basements." As with all communication events, consider the source; not the technology.
Finally, we've talked re-alignment 200 times here, but it always ends up being fun. Any thoughts on the latest? You can put me in the "excited by four divisions" camp, even if it meant the NY-area teams being lumped with Florida and D.C. (Don't half our division's fans end up in Florida anyway?)