Category Archives: James Neal

This must be denial.

I have mixed feelings about this trade.  I feel depressed, reluctantly optimistic, angry, and stressed all in one. So, let’s get started, shall we?

I love James Neal, and I’m extremely sad to see him go.  However, it’s not his hot-n-cold play that I’ll miss.  No, it’s his lovely face I’ll miss most.  It hurts so much to see a guy that I love go to my least favorite team in the world.  That’s what put me in denial and made me look like this: 

However…let’s face it: Neal has proven himself to be a one-trick pony who isn’t really good at backchecking, but doesn’t make up for it in scoring colossal numbers.  We’ve waited and waited to see him reach his so-called potential, but it hasn’t happened, and it would have done no good to keep him around and wait even longer.

As for Matt Niskanen, I will truly miss taking out my frustration on him.  Really, I will.  I’ll miss his doofy goatee and that deer-in-the-headlights look he got every time he was forced to make a play.  I’ll miss calling him Niskers and nearly having a heart attack when he does something correctly.  However, I have one thing to say to the Penguins: he’s your problem now. YEAH I WENT THERE.

And one big positive that comes from all of this is that the Stars have freed up some cap space, which, you know, might mean good things on the B-Rad front.  See, Neal would have been paid $3.5 million next year, so that’s a nice salary to get off the books.

As for the new guy, Goligoski, I’ll just wait and see.  As a Penguins-hater I don’t watch many of their games, so I don’t really know anything about him.  All I know is that he’s not as pretty as Nealer.  And that’s a damn shame.

Welp, that’s it for now.  I’m really curious to see how everything plays out.

GO STARS.

It doesn’t feel so strange anymore…

You could call this a former Stars update of sorts.  What I really wanted to talk about is how I haven’t missed Mike modano, Marty Turco, or Jere Lehtinen the way I initiallay thought I would. 

To be honest, I don’t feel their absence.  What I originally thought would be a huge gaping hole in the lineup really isn’t.  What I mean to say is that I thoguht things would never feel “normal” without those three guys on the team. 

At the beginning of the season, Mo, Lehts, and Turco were conspicuously absent, but after going undefeated for four games, I forgot about them not being there. 

We have an amazing young team, you guys.  The Pacific and the West are tough, but we’re not out of it yet.  Brad Richards is making a case for a Hart trophy nomination; Loui Eriksson has turned into an elite sniper; Jamie Benn and the kids are improving every game; Kari Lehtonen has carried this team all season.

All of this…without franchise favorites like Mike modano, Jere Lehtinen, and Marty Turco.  Their absence doesn’t feel odd and unpleasant anymore.  There is no hole in my heart, the lineup, or otherwise.

Be thankful for the team we’ve got.  Even though we may not make the playoffs, we’re in the best shape in two years.  Keep on believing.

Wanna be on top?

This season so far has just been craziness.  The Leafs and Stars are the leaders of their respective conferences and remain the only teams unbeaten.  If someone had told me before the season started that we would start 4-0, I would have asked you what you were smoking.

Because obviously the Stars we know from recent seasons would never, ever start the season so well. I mean, it just doesn’t happen.

Ok, let’s talk about last night’s thriller.

  • First, let’s talk Kari Lehtonen.  He’s the only reason they won that game.  Kari kept the Blues’ lead from increasing, while the Stars pulled themselves together to tie it.  He made key saves when they needed them. He’s been the rock back there all season. I hope he keeps it up.
  • Brad Richards is tied for the league lead in points with Marian Hossa. He’s really making a big case for league MVP.  He’s had four straight two-point-or-more games.
  • Loui Eriksson is vastly underrated.  He had a fantastic pass to James Neal for the first goal and his tying goal was beautiful. Loui’s become quite the sniper over the past couple of seasons. The sad thing is that no one’s really given him credit for his awesomeness.
  • For a team that couldn’t score a shootout goal at all last year, going three-for-three was very impressive.  B-Rad’s goal was a terrific shot. Ribs’ was a thing of magic. Loui’s wasn’t even really a shot, but I loved it.
  • Finally, look at this save of the year from Ty Conklin.  Ribs might have had nightmares about this one if we hadn’t won. I know I would have.

 Next up: Monday agianst B-Rad’s former team and his BFFFs, Vinny and Marty, the Yzerman Tampa Bay Lightning.

Let’s make it happen.

GO STARS

In Other News…

The Stars announced two personnel moves today.

First, Fabian Brunnstrom has been placed on waivers.  This really isn’t all that surprising.  He has no place on this team, even with Jamie Benn being injured. I’m fairly certain that no team will claim him, so all two of you Bunny-lovers can rejoice.

Here’s what GM Joe has to say about this:

We’ll see what happens on the wire. I know there are some teams interested, but I don’t know whether they’ll claim him. I think it’s just important that he gets playing again. It’s hard from his standpoint to be a part-time player. Either way, we have to get him in games. Austin will be a good fit for him, if that’s the case.

By the sounds of it, Fabio’s going to be in Austin for awhile.

The second little tidbit was a more joyful one.  The Stars added former NHL great, Gary Roberts, as a player consultant.  I think this is a wonderful addition.  Our very own James Neal knows Roberts very well, since the two of them are from the same hometown.  Roberts has trained Neal in the offseason, as well.  This can mean nothing but good things.  I adore this move so, so much.

Welp, that’s all for now, my lovelies.  It’s been quite a day, eh?

“90 is just a number. 9 is forever.”

I did not expect that. And let’s be honest, did any of us? We fucking OWNED that game. Last night was full of personal expectations for me that were not met. I expected to cry when I saw Mike Modano, but I didn’t even shed a tear. I expected the Wings to obliterate us, but instead we showed them the Dallas stars Blitzkrieg.

Crazy, right?

We had goals from the guys we need goals from- Brad Richards, Brenden Morrow, Loui (LOUI) Eriksson, and James “Real Deal” Neal.  Fun fact: Brenden Morrow is among the league leaders in goals, Brad Richards is a leader in points assists, and plus-minus, and we’re 3-0. Kari Lehtonen was a solid presence in the net.   We were outshot, and Kari performed magnificently.  Oh, and the PK wasn’t as atrocious as it was.  I mean, we only let in one goal on the PK. That’s progress.

Mark Fistric was a monster, as evidenced by this hit to Johan Franzen that has the Wings camp in an uproar:

Franzen left and is rumored to have a concussion. But never fear, it was a totally clean hit.  Fishsticks hits people to play the game, unlike guys like James Wisniewski who hurt guys to settle this sick desire to hurt people. But that’s just my opinion.

The Stars were the better team last night, and they showed it by doing the little things.  I was really proud of them.  Bottom line, we’re three-and-oh, bitches.  Stats are useless; the only one that matters is wins.  Obviously the Stars will fall back to Earth sometime, but I want to enjoy this wondeful feeling while it lasts.  It’s fun being at the top.

Finally, here’s some Modano footage, including an interview:

Nest up, we play the Blues.  The big question is, Will the Stars finally crash back down to Earth? Or will they keep up this shocking run?

Let’s make it happen. GO STARS.

Realistic Expectations

Last season, I said the Stars would win the Stanley Cup.  Obviously that didn’t happen, and I was, after all, being overly optimistic.  Let’s be realistic now.

The Stars won’t win the Stanley Cup next year, no matter how much you or I want it to happen.  Cry your tears now.

Better?  Okay, let’s be serious now.  While the Stars most definitely won’t be Cup winners, they just might be able to make the playoffs.  Maybe.

We have a really nice young team (minus the defense /eyeroll) that might be able to prove the haters wrong and exceed expectations.  Sure Fabian Brunnstrom is a waste of space and a failure at life, but guys like James Neal, Jamie Benn, Mark ‘Fists’ Fistric, and Nicklas Grossman make up for that.  Remember, with every season, our youngsters are just a bit older and more experienced.  In today’s league, that can be kind of a big deal.

As for the veterans, we have Brad Richards, who is coming off of a campaign that saw him finish seventh in the league in scoring to the tune of 91 points.  Atta kid, B-Rad.  Brenden Morrow should be back to normal (oh Lawd he better be) after 2008-09’s ACL injury and last year’s questionable leadership.  Stephane Robidas starts the first year of his new contract. Karlis Skrastins won’t tire because of thise darn Olympics.  Mike Ribeiro will hopefully adjust to Marc Crawford’s system.  Things just might be less mediocre than last year.

Mike Modano, Marty Turco, and (more than likely) Jere Lehtinen aren’t returning.  The old order is gone.  Guys like Brad Richards, Kari Lehtonen, and Loui Eriksson will be relied upon to bring this team back to the playoffs.  I have faith in the Stars to be better than last year.

Bottom line, the playoffs aren’t an unreachable goal.  It’ll be a tough journey getting there, but I know the guys have it in themselves to do it.  Even if they do stink it up again, I’ll still have fun cheering them on.

I’ll be pessimistically optimistic until it’s official the season’s done and over for them.  But no matter what those crazy guys end up achieving, this should be fun.

Y’all ready for this?

Priorities…

So James Neal still hasn’t been re-signed.  Neither has Nick Grossman.  With Hjalmarsson signing an offer sheet from San Jose today, I’m a teensy bit worried. 

Those so-called “experts” say that there’s nothing to worry about because losing an RFA to an offer sheet is, like, really rare.  Bullshit.  I’ll be worried about those two until they’re both re-signed.  Admittedly, I’m more concerned with Neal than Grossman, but that’s mostly because Neal is very appealing to other teams.  You know, teams with money.

GM Joe needs to hurry up and sign Nealer and Nicky because this is getting very worrisome.  I’m not even going to mention Niskers and Bunny.  No offense, but they’re irrelevant to this team moving forward.

If Neal doesn’t come back, I won’t be able to make fun Mean Girls-inspired pictures of him.  That would be a damn shame.

Season Grades: James Neal

I think that Neal had a good season, but he got streaky at times.  After he started out the seaosn with a literal bang, he kind of slowed down.

I blame it on the suspension.  We all remember the suspension, right?  Derek Dorsett of the Blue Jackets took an elbow to the back and went down in what had to have been the funniest hit of the year.  Neal got two games.  He just wasn’t right after that.

He went on to score a bunch of goals, sure, but I think that suspension did something to him.  It took away the gritty little touch that made him our little Real Deal and it was painful to see that.  I think he regained that toughness and grittiness towards the end, but it didn’t make up for the fact that he was a ghost of himself for a little while after the suspension.

Now, the suspension is obviously the biggest part of his individual seaosn, but there was a lot more than that.  There were times when he was simply amazing.  He didn’t have a sophomore slump, which is another plus.  I think we’ll see some really gret stuff from this kid in the future.

He did really well on a struggling Stars team, and I’m very surprised that he didn’t get the sophomore slump.  We can consider ourselves lucky for that.

Grade: B.  For dodging the dreaded sophomore slump and being a “Big Deal,” but for losing yourself after the suspension.

Playoffs? Who Needs ‘Em?

Yeah, that’s my sad attempt to feel better about the Stars not making it…again.  But you know, whatever.  I have some reasons why this isn’t the worst thing ever.  My belief is that there is ALWAYS a silver lining.

So, I give you my reasons why the Stars not being in the playoffs isn’t the end of the world:

1. You don’t have to stress over how the Stars are doing in the playoffs.  Since they’re not in the playoffs,the only thing we have to worry about is who they’ll draft, free agents, etc.  I learned last postseason that that is actually a really good feeling, a welcome break from the stressful playoff runs of the past few years.

2. The opportunity to get to know other teams is worth taking.  Last year, I jumped on the Capitals bandwagon and eventually the Red Wings bandwagon.  Throughout the playoffs, I learned more and more about these teams.  They became my teams and I felt their happiness when they won and their heartbreak when they lost.  At the end of the playoffs, I could name every player on every line of those two teams.  I was a Caps fan before, but now I’m still a Wings fan.

3. We have high hopes for next season.  With the end of our second straight  playoff-less season, we once again have a lot to look forward to.  Jamie Benn.  Tom Wandell.  More James Neal and Loui Eriksson.  Kari Lehtonen.  These kids will continue to grow and impress us all.  Besides, next season hasn’t even started.  We can hope all we want to.  It’s a fresh start.

4. They don’t have high hopes for us next season.  They being the media and the so-called “experts.”  They won’t expect anything great from the Stars.  We’ll either wallow in a pit of misery like they expect us to, or we’ll have an amazing season that makes them go, “Wow.  How about them Stars?”  It’s a no-lose situation.

Guys, this is, like, a new beginning.  Like in that song, “Second Chance” by Shinedown: Sometimes good-bye’s a second chance…

You’d better like it.

Go Stars!

But There Is Hope…

And with one game, the Stars gave us hope.  This last win before the Olympic break against Phoenix was arguably the best game of this season.  The Stars played like they wanted it, and sure the Coyotes were tired and not in it, but the Stars just made them look even worse.  It’s games like those that can make a team, make a winning streak.  I’m bummed that the Olympic break had to happen, just when the Stars look like they could start a streak.

Anyway, here’s some thoughts I had from the game:

-Obviously the James Neal hit on Petr Prucha was a big story from the game.  In my opinion, it was a clean hit that resulted in a freak injury.  The glass sucks in Phoenix, so that was probably a contributing factor.  It’s unfortunate that Prucha was injured; concussions are NEVER a good thing.  What was dirty though, was the way Phoenix retaliated.  Somebody tell me how the hell Shane Doan did NOT get called for charging.  He was waaaay out there when he stared to come toward Neal.  Then Jovanovski went after Neal and had Nealer not seen him coming, Neal could have been seriously injured.  It was almost Bertuzzi-like how the Coyotes were after the hit…

-Speaking of Neal, after that game, I just loved him more.  You can add the Phoenix Coyotes to the ever-growing list of teams that hate James Neal.  Our Nealer is a truculent fellow, eh? 😛

-How about Marty Turco?  I just love the competetive Turco we used to see in the Mike Smith days.  If this Turco is the one that plays the rest of the season, then I love Kari Lehtonen.  Because the new guy in town is bringing out the Turco we know and love.  Our goalie situation is the best it’s been all season.

I also just wanted to say how bad I feel about that luger who died, Nodar Kumaritashvili, of Georgia.  I am, however, happy that he died doing what he loved.  RIP, Nodar.

Now let’s forget about our wonderful sport of hockey for a little while and go watch the Winter Olympics.  Then, obviously, we watch the Olympic hockey and have fun.  

U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!