What a start to what should be a long, enticing series.
It wasn’t the bloodbath some expected after their over-the-top season finale, but it was truly a back-and-forth game full of everything.
The Dallas Stars stole Game 1 from the San Jose Sharks, and the MVP, clearly, was goaltender Marty Turco. Who else can it be after you get outshot 10-2 in the first period?
Like a Hungry Hungry Hippo scooping up one of those small white marbles, Turco controlled the crease and its surrounding area, jumping out and smothering anything in sight.
But as easily as he took away chances, he created them just the same for the Stars; one goal for Dallas could have been a faceoff in their own end if Turco didn’t decide to shovel it up the ice. But what else is new? This guy continues to prove he is, in fact, a playoff performer.
Let’s give credit where credit is due, though.
Stephane Robidas was Dallas’ most important skater in Game 1. While the Sharks came out banging – and had me thinking early on they would dominate - the Stars came out with an edge in speed. Robidas was the only Star able to throw his weight around effectively enough to counter the big, bad Shark attack.
Not only that, but the overtime winner was all created by the hard-nosed defenseman. If examples of how important it is to cover your point men aren’t old already, we’ll see this replay on Coach’s Corner Saturday.
Brendan Morrow and Mike Modano were also effective. Morrow for his timely goals – and a beautiful Brett Hull impression on the winner, I might add – and Modano for continuing to play as a very solid quarterback on the power play, while Sergei Zubov remains out with an injury.
Modano should have been called for an unsportsmanlike penalty on Brian Campbell’s interference late in the game. It was interference, of that there is no doubt, but Modano definitely embellished the contact. I cringed when only one of them was sent to the sin bin, but I’m glad it didn’t have an effect on the finish. I digress. This game was about the action and not the officiating.
The only blemishes on the score sheet for the Stars were goals banged in around the crease, of which Turco could do nothing.
While Milan Michalek was credited with the game’s first goal, it looked to me like Jonathan Cheechoo nudged it towards the goal line. Cheechoo was the Sharks’ most effective player in the offensive zone – not to take anything away from the play of Craig Rivet, who was the Sharks’ answer to the tough two-way play of Robidas - so going forward, the Stars’ defenders need to keep the former Rocket Richard Trophy winner away from the front of the net.
Joe Thornton continues to be a no-show. It looks like he’s trying out there, but the puck just doesn’t want to stay on his stick. Sometimes it’s the bounces, sometimes it’s the bad breaks, but either way, Thornton has to start producing – and shooting – if San Jose is to solve Turco and advance to the next round.
This is going to be a long, hard-fought series. Whoever wins, I believe, will go on to take the Stanley Cup.
Let the games begin, boys.
THN.com's Playoff Blogs, featuring analysis and opinion on the action from the night before, with insight on what happened and what it all means going forward, will appear daily throughout the NHL playoffs. Read more entries HERE.
Rory Boylen is THN.com's web content specialist. His blog appears Thursdays.
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