Now that we’ve had a week to get over the Stars’ loss to Detroit – and digest just how amazing this particular playoff run was, for so many reasons – a retrospective on the entire season, and what made it all so special, seems in order.
So in the age of “High Fidelity” and all-time top 5 lists – or borrowing more directly from David Letterman’s top 10 (from back in the NBC days, when he was funny) -- we will analyze the 10 biggest, most important, moments from the 2007-08 Dallas Stars campaign.10: New face of the All-Star game:
It didn’t take Stars fans long to realize just what they had in Mike Ribeiro
as he registered 59 points in 2006-07, his first season in Dallas. This year, he earned what could very well be the first of many trips to the All-Star game, putting up 54 points before the break alone on his way to a career-high 83 points. Now a permanent fixture on the Stars’ top line along with Brenden Morrow
, one has to think 90-point seasons are a possibility for this 28-year old center. 9: You gotta be Jokin’ me!
It had been seven years since a Dallas Star recorded four goals in a game, and the last guy to do it, back in 2000 against Anaheim, was named Brett Hull (who, by the way, scored 741 for his career). On Nov. 16 against Colorado, Jussi Jokinen joined that club with four goals, including three in the second period, in a 6-1 Stars victory. Sergei Zubov provided assists on all four, including one sweet, diagonal pass as Jokinen drove toward the left post. Just like that four-goal performance by Hull seven years ago, I’m sure I’ll remember this one vividly for years. 8: Get ready for a battle
We’re not sure if the Stars were just refusing to be pushed around, or if they were making a statement to San Jose, a potential playoff opponent, in the regular-season finale. Either way, they made it very clear to the Sharks that day that they would not go quietly out of the regular season. One of the most energetic, chippy games we’ve ever seen at American Airlines Center ended with a combined 160 penalty minutes and seven game misconducts. Listen to the crowd that day and tell me fans don’t love fighting! The final result was a 4-2 Stars victory, one that definitely made a statement to their second-round playoff foe. And how fitting, much to San Jose’s chagrin, that Steve Ott
would score the game’s final goal.7: Stephane Robidas channels Bobby Orr
When Stars fans breathed a collective sigh of relief after dispatching Anaheim in the opening round, all praise had to be pointed the direction of Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas
. With Dallas trailing the Ducks 1-0 after two periods of Game Six, facing the possibility of returning to Anaheim for Game Seven, Robidas turned the game around quickly. Just 78 seconds into the third period, he took a rebound off the boards and buried it, tying the game with his first career playoff goal. A mere 52 seconds later, he skated past the Anaheim defense at the blueline and fed Stu Barnes right in front for what would prove to be the game winner in a 4-1 Stars victory.6: Breaking the slide
There may not have been a more important victory this season for the Stars than their 4-0 win in Game One of the opening round against the Ducks. Consider this: the Stars had lost six consecutive Game Ones, and were just 2-8 in their last 10. As a result, they had lost five of those six series’ in which they lost Game One. So getting this one, in Anaheim, against a Ducks team that had the best home record in the NHL, just set the tone for this entire playoff run. From that point, nothing seemed impossible.
5: Turnover at the top
|Mike Modano (November 7, 2007) |
In mid November, the organization had the difficult task of parting ways with general manager Doug Armstrong, who had been with the team for 17 years. Never an easy transition, for sure, but the naming of Brett Hull and Les Jackson as co-general managers seemed to breathe some life into the Stars as a team. Dallas would go 16-5-1 over its next 21 games, and despite a slide in March would push through to the team’s longest postseason run since 2000. The seemingly unconventional co-GM format works with Hull and Jackson, who complement each other perfectly and provide the balance this team needs. And, the duo would have a very large part in making our next significant moment happen … 4: Stars get Rich(ards)
It’s been a while since the Stars were the talk of the NHL at trade deadline, but they were, deservedly so, this February. Unlike deadline days past with trades for Ladislav Nagy and the likes, this year the Stars didn’t go after the “rent-a-player,” hoping he would fit in before the postseason. Nope, they dealt for a proven playoff performer, in fact a former Conn Smythe Trophy winner, who was just 27 at the trade deadline (now 28) and has three years remaining on his contract in Brad Richards. It appears safe to say the Stars hope to build their future around Richards and Ribeiro, and that’s a pretty good starting point. While trading away a big, young, athletic goaltender in Mike Smith is never easy, you have to give something to get something, as they say, and what the Stars got in return is huge. If you need proof, check out Richards’ third period of Game Two against San Jose, when he tied an NHL playoff record with four points in a period (one goal, three assists). 3: Greatest American Hero
This one was definitely worth the wait. After starting his season with eyes focused on becoming the leading all-time point scorer among U.S. born players, Mike Modano would tie and break the record in the same night: Nov. 7 in San Jose. After tying Phil Housley with a goal for his 1,232nd career point, he would pass Housley on a breakaway in the same period, his second goal of the night and 1,233rd career point. We already knew he was arguably the greatest American born player ever. Now, he has the points record to make the argument for him. A wonderfully planned, beautifully executed ceremony to honor Modano back in Dallas later in the season provided the icing on this cake, one 18 seasons in the baking.
2: Marty exorcises a demon
|Marty Turco |
There are few things I wanted to see happen this season more than watching Marty Turco win a game at Joe Louis Arena. Actually, that’s probably near the top of the list, and now that he’s done it, let’s hope it’s just the start of many more to come. Let’s be honest: beating the Red Wings in Detroit is probably the hardest thing for any goaltender to do in this league. They have currently lost all of one game in their building this postseason, and it was to Turco in Game Five of the Western Conference Final. After going 0-9-2 previously in that building as a professional, he broke his losing streak in championship fashion by stopping 38 of 39 shots in a 2-1 victory. The University of Michigan product deservedly earned the Game’s No. 1 star, and is probably glad he can now stop answering questions about why he can’t win in Detroit.1: Smile you son of a …
Replacing Roy Scheider as Chief Martin Brody in this shark-hunting tale was Stars captain Brenden Morrow
, who provided the single most memorable moment of this season with his performance in the four-overtime Game Six against San Jose. Like many fish stories, Morrow’s performance will probably grow in legend as the years progress. Before the numbers get muddled with time and folklore, let’s get the facts correctly documented: An even 51:00 ice time in 55 shifts, seven shots on goal, 19 hits (which has to be some kind of record), a game-changing knockout blow to San Jose’s Milan Michalek just before regulation ended (on a perfectly clean hit), and, fittingly, the game-winning goal in the seventh period (and 129th minute) of play. I feel like I’m pretty well versed on Dallas Stars playoff history, and I honestly can’t remember a more dominant performance by one skater in this franchise’s great postseason runs.