The Stars needed a big week after the 1-5 homestand and they got it big time in California this week. The Dallas Stars with big wins over the San Jose Sharks and the Anaheim Ducks. On Tuesday, the Stars got their 1st win of the season against the Sharks with a very convincing 4-1 win in the Shark Tank which is known as one of the loudest arena's in the NHL. They were lead by Jason Neal who scored 2 in the game while Modano and Brent Sutherbay also scoring in the win who were also the 3 stars of the game. Marty Turco also had a big game stopping 24 shots while the only goal he gave was a wicked wrist shot from Sharks Center Joe Thorton. The Sharks are a team that are most effective when they can get out of the zone on the 1st pass but the Stars always have given the team fits over having problems getting out of their own zone and this was a huge part of the win back on Tuesday.
Game Recap on the NHL Website.
Next up was the Kings back on Thursday. In recent years, weird things have happend to the Stars. Thursday night was no exception, as they were up 4-2 with just just 3:18 left in the game before Micheal Handzus scored to make it 4-3, then if it couldn't get any stranger, the team's superstar Slovenian Anze Kopitar scores with just 15 seconds with the extra man to tie then Handzus scores again in OT to give him the hat trick a minute and a half into the extra period. This was a game in which the Stars needed to get the win reguarding that it was the weakest of the 3 teams on this road trip, even though they get a point for the getting the game into OT.
Then last night, the Ducks in Anaheim in which they won a very gritty 3-2 win despite being out shot by Anaheim 38-16 but aided with a great night by Marty Turco, also with the addidition of Brendan Morrison they got at the trade deadline off waivers from the Anaheim Ducks. During the game last night, where Loui Erickson scored 2 goals including the game winner that J-S Giguere on a blooper that took a weird hop to get by the Ducks goalie which turned out the be game winner, it became more valueable when Bobby Ryan scored with 2 and a half minutes left in the game and then the Ducks went on a birage to attempt to get the game winner.
Getting 5 out of 6 points this week was a big turnaround from the bad homestand and reassured Stars Fans everywhere that they will fight for a playoff birth till the very end of the regular season where they need every win they can get. Right now the Stars are sitting in a 3 way tie for 6th place with 70 points with the Nashville Predators and the Columbus Blue Jackets, just below them the Edmonton Oilers and Anaheim Ducks which are 9th and 10th which have 68 points each right now. On top of the Standings out west, it's going to be a battle between the San Jose Sharks and the Detroit Red Wings which are currently tied with 94 points even though the Sharks have 2 fewer games right now. Out in the Eastern Conference, The Boston Bruins have an 8 point lead over the New Jersery Devils for the Eastern Conference lead.
Here's this week's Dallas Stars Schedule
3/8 VS. Montreal
3/10 AT St. Louis
3/12 VS. Carolina
3/14 VS. Minnesota
Major Junior Playoff Races
Up north of the border, the major junior regular seasons are comming down to the wire. With the OHL, WHL and the QMJHL Regular season's ending on March 15, most of the playoffs spots have been clinched and we have transionated into a race for seeding.
Ontario Hockey League
In Ontario, The Eastern Conference top seed is going to come down the final day probally as the OHL Leauge Runner ups from last year the Belleville Bulls are going to battle with the Brampton Battalion. Right now the Bulls are currently up by 2 points with 4 games left to play entering tonight's action. 2 other teams that have also already clinched playoff spots are the Ottawa 67s and the Mississauga St. Micheals Majors who will be battling for the 3rd and 4th spots in the Eastern Conference. The bottom of the playoff race is going to be very enteraing with the Barrie Colts and Niagara Ice Dogs looking good for playoff hockey as they are tied with 62 points. The last 2 playoff spots are going to be a battle between the Sudbury Wolves and Oshawa Generals which are tied for 7th with 56 points while the Peterborough Petes are 3 points back with 53 points with 4 or 5 games left to play.
The Western Conference is pretty much determined with a couple of acceptions. The Windsor Spitfires have clinched the top spot while the London Knights will be the 2nd seed, spots 3 through 6 will be a battle as the Plymouth Whalers, Saginaw Spirit, Sarnia Sting and Guelph Storm are just seperated by 4 points. The Erie Otters and the Owen Sound Attack will probally be the #7 and #8 spots out west as they attempt to fight with Sarnia and Guelph hopefully one of those teams slips.
Here's the current playoff matchups in the Ontario Hockey League
#1 Belleville Bulls VS. #8 Oshawa Generals
#2 Brampton Battalion VS. #7 Sudbury Wolves
#3 Ottawa 67s VS. #6 Niagara Icedogs
#4 Mississauga St. Michaels Majors VS. #5 Barrie Colts
#1 Windsor Spitfires VS. #8 Owen Sound Attack
#2 London Knights VS. #7 Erie Otters
#3 Saginaw Spirit VS. #6 Guelph Storm
#4 Plymouth Whalers VS. #5 Sarnia Sting
Western Hockey League
All but one of the playoff spots in the Western Hockey League have been clinched. All Year it's been about the 2 top seeds running away with both Conferences. The Calgary Hitmen and the Vancouver Giants are currently battling for the top overall seed. On the bottom, the only playoff spot left up for grabs is the final spot in the Eastern Conference most likely between the Edmonton Oil Kings and the Prince Albert Raiders.
The Eastern Conference is being lead big time by the Calgary Hitmen who have a staggering 57 wins out of 70 games and have a scored an incredible 320 goals this season. For the 2nd spot, it's going to be a great battle between the Saskatoon Blades and the Brandon Wheat Kings as the Blades have a 5 point lead but the Wheat Kings have been surging at the right time to get ready for a pontential long post season run. For the final home ice spot in the 1st round, the Swift Current Bronocos and the Medicine Hat Tigers are seperatred by just 3 points with 4 games left to play. the 6th and 7th spots will be between the Kootenay Ice and the Lethbridge Hurricanes that could be the dark horse and both hav the goaltending that could put up a 1st round upset.
Out in the Western Conference, The Vancouver Giants have a huge lead and clinched the west top seed with a huge lead over the Tri-City Americans who will be the #2 seed who have a 11 point gap over the Kelowna Rockets. The Spokane Cheifs have struggled the last few weeks from probally winning the U.S. Division to going down into 4th after winning just 2 of their last 6 games. The Kamloops Blazers and Seattle Thunderbirds will be the 5th and 6th spots while the Everett will be the 7th spot while the Prince George Cougars just clinched the 8th and final spot earlier this week. The lowly Portland Winterhawks will finish among the bottom of the league where they have been for most of this decade.
Current Playoff Matchups
#1 Calgary Hitmen VS. #8 Edmonton Oil Kings
#2 Saskatoon Blades VS. #7 Lethbridge Hurricanes
#3 Brandon Wheat Kings VS. #6 Kootenay Ice
#4 Swift Current Broncos VS. #5 Medicine Hat Tigers
#1 Vancouver Giants VS. #8 Prince George Cougars
#2 Tri-City Americans VS. #7 Everett Silvertips
#3 Kelowna Rockets VS. #6 Seattle Thunderbirds
#4 Spokane Cheifs VS. #5 Kamloops Blazers
Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
In the Quebec West and Central Divisions, the Drummondville Voltigres and Shawinigan Catarctices are head and shoulders above everyone else in the leagues West and Central Divisions. Not only are Drummondville and Shawinigan are just fighting it out for the Central Division title, but for the top overall seed in the QMJHL Playoffs. The two 3rd place teams in both divisions have pretty much have no shot to move up or is they in any danger to move down to the last spots in the divisions as they are in playoff prep mode right now, the last place teams the Val-dor Floures and the Lewiston Maineaics are fighting it out to get into the playoffs as they are currently tied for the last playoff spots in the league with 46 points with both teams having 3 games left to play.
In the Quebec East and Atlantic Divisions, The Quebec City Ramparts have clinched the East Division title with a comfy 14 point lead over the Rimouski Oceanic. The Oceanic despite hosting this year's CHL Memormial Cup, they want a good showing the in the QMJHL Playoffs so they can give a strong performance come mid May as they compete for the championship. Chicoutimi will be gearing up for a showdown against the Oceanic but it will be a uphill climb with their shaky defense. The Baie-Comeau Drakkar are the minnows in the East Division as they will have to come up a way against the Ramparts. In the Atlantic, the Moncton Wildcats and Cape Breton Screaming Eagles are fighting for the Atlantic Division title as the Wildcats have a 4 point lead and a game in hand. The St. John Seadogs and P.E.I. Rockets will be the 3rd and 4th spots getting ready for the tough matchups in the 1st round. The Acadie-Bathrust Titans as the 5th place team will go into the Quebec Division that has the 2nd team elinmated. In the last spot, Halifax Mooseheads are 12 points back of Acadie-Bathrust and will be out of the playoffs after being in the League Semifinals last year.
Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Playoffs
Because of the different divisional aligment the QMJHL Layed out last year. The QMJHL has a much different playoff format then the WHL and OHL. The QMJHL will start out with the divisonal round, 1-4 and 2-3. The 5th place team from the Atlantic will go into the division from the West, Central, and East division teams that get's elinmated. Then after the Divisional Round, they will be seeded from 1 through 8 based on Regular Season Record.
Current Playoff Matchups
Quebec West Division
#1 Gatineau Olympiques VS. #4 Val-dor Floures
#2 Montreal De Junior VS. #3 Rouyn-Nornda Huskies
Quebec Central Division
#1 Drummondville Voltigres VS. #4 Acadie-Bathurst Titans
#2 Shawinigan Cataractes VS. #3 Victoriaville Tigres
Quebec East Division
#1 Quebec City Ramparts VS. #4 Baie-Comeau Drakkar
#2 Rimouski Oceanic VS. #3 Sagueneens
#1 Moncton Wildcats VS. #4 P.E.I. Rockets
#2 Cape Breton Screaming Eagles VS. #3 St. John Seadogs
Ice Hockey Meeting
Earlier this week, I had my meeting with the Principal of FM Marcus High School (My Old High School) as we discussed on how to promote and grow ice hockey at the high school level across Texas. It's finally refreshing that we have a principal that is willing to help out to make the sport more popular at the high school level. He's been to a couple of FM Marcus games throughout the season and has been very exicited about the oppurnity and the growth pontential that the sport has. We also talked about the different junior and college teams across the state and a few across the country that have great hockey teams. (Namely Colgate University where Austin Smith plays). I would like to think Marcus Principal Gary Shafferman for having the meeting and starting up a dileouge that will help out the sport in the future. Also, I know Randy Mayes whose the Lewisville Indendpent School District Atheltic Director who is also intrestred in making sure that ice hockey grows at the different levels across the state.
Some websites to check out.
If you want to find one of the best podcast's on the internet to discuss the NHL on the internet. Then check out http://www.puckpodcast.com/ . This website is a weekly show done by Eddie Garcia and Doug Stolhand, this podcast is the #1 hockey podcast on the internet and also afflaited with the Fox Sports website. The shows are usually done on Saturdays and last about an hour. I also send email's and comments on the website on a pretty regular basis so be sure to look out for me.
To dicuss ice hockey around the world. Be sure to check out http://www.internationalhockey.net/ . This one of the biggest and most all around international hockey websites in the world. We dicuss pretty much any kind of ice hockey around the world from the NHL to the top euro leagues to the different world championship events that take place. My username is tanman9 and I'm the North American Minor's Reporter on the forum.