It's been a rough two years for Brenden Morrow.
He tore up his knee 18 games into the 2008-09 campaign and then came back with just 20 goals among 46 points in 76 games last season.
You almost forgot how good he was back in 2008 when he tallied 32 goals among 74 points and followed that up by hoisting the Stars on his back and carrying them to the Western Conference Finals with 9 goals among 15 points in 18 playoff games.
But Morrow showed some flashes of that past greatness on Saturday night, as he zipped two lasers into the back of the net en route to a 5-2 win over the St. Louis Blues. The first goal came when Morrow found some space in the high slot, got a great pass from linemate Mike Ribeiro and snapped a wrister to the top of the net. The next came when Ribeiro made a long cross-ice pass on the rush, and Morrow one-timed in a beauty from deep on the off-wing in transition.
They were just pre-season goals, and they came against 20-year-old Jake Allen in net, but they were goal-scorer's goals, and that's something we haven't seen from Morrow in a while.
``It does feel good to do that, I'm not going to lie,'' Morrow said. ``Both of them, (Ribeiro) couldn't have put them in a better place. He saucered them and they landed right on the blade.''
``I don't want to get too carried away with one pre-season game, but we do have high expectations,'' Morrow added. ``That's something I want to be better at, I want to be counted on for scoring.''
Stars coach Marc Crawford said Morrow scored similar goals in the scrimmage on Prince Edward Island.
``There's real chemistry between Ribeiro and Morrow, '' Crawford said. ``We've still got a long ways to go, but it would be terrific if we had more than one line scoring. I think we've got the ability to be a pretty good offensive club.''
On paper, the ability to throw out the Richards and Ribeiro lines and have both be effective would be a huge advantage for the Stars. Adam Burish got a nice little tryout at right wing with Morrow and Ribeiro and looked good. He was in front of the net on one of the Morrow goals and did a good job fighting for the puck the rest of the night. It will be interesting to see if Crawford and the coaches continue to give Burish a chance there.
As for the other big story, Brent Krahn was just OK in net. He got the win and allowed just two goals on 21 shots, but the first one probably could have been stopped (a point shot through a crowd on the power play) and the second was simply soft.
``The second period was two bad goals,'' Krahn said. ``I definitely wouldn't say it's my best outing, but we got the win and you move on from there. You take the positives and work on the negatives and get better.''
When asked about the battle with Andrew Raycroft to earn the backup job, Krahn said he couldn't panic. This was his big audition and Raycroft will get a solo pre-season game next week.
``I know it's there, but tonight I'm not competing against Raycroft, I'm competing against the St. Louis Blues,'' Krahn said. ``The guys played great in front of me, and it was my responsibility to stop those two goals. It could have been 5-0 tonight.''
Other interesting points:
Jace Coyle looked good in his first NHL pre-season game. The 20-year-old defenseman who has been signed by the Stars will return for his last year with Medicine Hat in the Western Hockey League. But he had a pretty assist and is definitely on this team's radar for the future. Coyle will head back to Medicine Hat on Sunday and Scott Glennie will go back to Brandon on Monday.
Trevor Ludwig had a big hit early in the game and Crawford said that really helped get the veterans into the game. Ludwig finished with three hits and two blocked shots. Ludwig is expected to be a part of the defense in Cedar Park.
Aaron Gagnon had another pretty goal and is certainly making it difficult to send him back to the AHL. He is a ball of energy right now.
The Stars' pre-season faceoff success hit a wall, as they finished at 43 percent (21-of-49). Jamie Benn won just 3-of-11.
Matt Niskanen and Trevor Daley bounced back from bad games on Tuesday. Niskanen played a game-high 25:58 and was plus-3 with an assist. Daley played 24:59 and was plus-1 with a goal.
Practice on Sunday in Frisco at 10 a.m. for the AHL group and noon for the NHL group. It is open to the public.