I wrote this for Friday's paper, but I think it bears repeating here:
The backup goalie job is one of the toughest in the world, because you often get assignments like Thursday where the team is tired and really not at its best.
So what Alex Auld did in stopping 32 shots in a 3-2 win (while the Stars put 16 on net in the other direction) was Impressive.
Auld faced nine shots before the Stars registered even one at Peter Budaj, and the Stars should have been down one or two goals in the first 10 minutes. But Auld held the fort, a fluky pass bounced in off of James Neal's skate, and all was happy in Starsland.
That's what a calm goalie can do for you.
Auld is definitely calm. He's a big guy at 6-4, but he's very good positionally and very simple in his movements.
It's only preseason, and it's only one game, but having that performance at that time allows the team, the coaching staff and the fandom to take a deep breath at 3-3-0 in the preseason. That's a whole lot better than a panicked 2-4-0 start that probably looked far too much like last season's exhibition slate.
It's a great sign for a position that was a real problem for this team last year.
An update on Brenden Morrow _ he had some muscle tightness in his legs this afternoon, he skated in the pregame skate and then decided not to play. It was simply a decision to err on the side of caution (just as Mike Modano had done two nights ago with his hip), but it is a sign the Stars are being pushed physically in this training camp. I think there is plenty of time (nine days) to get ready for the opener and make sure everyone is healthy and conditioned, but it certainly is something everyone will be watching.
The Neal-Richards-Eriksson line was good again. They created plenty of chances (Eriksson must have had five scoring chances) and scored all three goals (Eriksson two and Neal one). Yes, they have done most of their preseason damage against Budaj, but they look good on the ice. I still believe Neal and Eriksson have ``winger chemistry,'' a phrase I will copyright before it sweeps the NHL.
Luke Gazdic and Ray Sawada each had fights. Marc Crawford said he liked the spirit of both young players and their willingness to show they will battle for their team.
Crawford also said he felt Fabian Brunnstrom had his best game (17:47, one shot on goal, minus-1).
Aaron Gagnon (1-of-7) and Brad Richards (2-of-11) were bad on faceoffs, but Toby Petersen balanced it out with a 7-for-9 night. Steve Ott and Stephane Ribidas each had five hits.
Anything you guys liked (or disliked)?