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Modano Weekly Wrap-Up: Tuesday, December 10

It was a rare “light” week for the Stars with only two games on the schedule, both at American Airlines Center.  Mike Modano had points in each game to maintain his position among the top five scorers in the NHL with 32.  Against Montreal, he scored the fifth goal in a 5-1 victory on a feed from Bill Guerin and returned the favor to Guerin with an assist on the Stars first goal in a 3-3 tie with Detroit.

Wednesday, December 4 vs. Montreal (W, 5-1)

Stat line:
One goal
Plus/minus: +1
13:38 of ice time, 16 shifts
• 0:00 power play
• 2:49 shorthanded
Eight of 20 faceoffs won (40%)
Three shots on goal

• Modano vs. Montreal, career: 25 games, five goals, 13 assists, 18 points
• Modano’s 13:38 of ice time and 0:00 on the power play were his lowest of the season.  Previously, he had only 13:48 of ice time in a 4-2 win at Anaheim.

Interesting perspective on Modano from Stars head equipment manager, Dave Smith, who has known Mike since he was an 18-year-old rookie.  The following comes from an interview with The Hockey News:

THN: What’s it like having Modano in your dressing room?
DS: He’s extremely low-maintenance.  Once he’s settled in for the year, there’s virtually no problems.  The only thing that’s different with Mike is he’s using an Eaton model glove that they’ve discontinued.  We bought up a number of pairs and he always jokes that when he’s out of gloves he’s out of the league.

THN: What about the gloves?  How often does he change those?
DS: He uses one pair for practice and one for games and the practice ones he’ll break in and use for games next year.

THN: And skates?
DS: One pair will get him through an entire year.  We’ll change the blades four or five times, but that’s it.  The boots are fine.

THN: What about sharpening his skates?  Anything special?
DS: He uses a very shallow hollow, unlike a lot of guys.  He has only one inch which across the league is extremely hollow.  He’s right on top of the ice.  He glides.  He’s tremendously smooth.

THN: How often do you sharpen his skates?
DS: For every game and as needed.  On practice days, we’ll leave them if they’re fine.  If not, we’ll give it a quick go.  We have to make sure they’re in good shape, especially with the rate of speed these guys go.  To lose your footing and go sailing into the boards or net, you’re flirting with danger and injuries.

THN: Lots of guys give their skate boots a banging.  What about Modano?
DS: He’s really good on them.  He doesn’t beat them up.  He manages to get by and still play the game at a tremendously high level, but with one pair of boots all year.

THN: Any quirks?
DS: He wears an extension (pad) off the back of his pants, where a guy is cross-checked a lot. He just wants a little extra protection.  Other than that, he uses the regular stuff.

Stars center Mike Modano made an appearance on The Ticket with Bob Sturm and Dan McDowell last Tuesday. Here are some of the highlights of his interview:
On how how Ken Hitchcock and Dave Tippett handled poor performances by the team

"Some times Hitch would like to air it out right then and there. Get it out and over with. Talk about it right after the game. 'Hey what is the deal? What is the problem?' Figure what went wrong here, move on, so we can correct it, sleep well and get it out of our minds. We can put this game behind us. Tip is a little different. He just comes in and says 'everybody on the bus at ten.' So we have a quick “everyone does his thing and get out of here.” They both have their little quirks about dealing with it.
On comparisons between the current Stars and the 1999 team that won the Stanley Cup

"They're very similar. Yet, in some ways, they are very different. I think our team in '99, in our zone there was no one who could play in our zone. We would shut down guys. No second or third opportunities. We were just so stingy in our own zone. We didn't give anything away in the neutral zone. We were great positionally. This year, we are to a point. But there have been games where we have allowed a lot of second and third chances and Marty [Turco] has had to make big saves. Guys had to make key blocks on shots. For firepower this is a far better offensive team than we had in '99. There are three solid lines that you can roll. Our D is joining the rush. There are some different tendencies. We are a much stronger team in the offensive zone this year than we were in '99. Opposite on the other end. We were stronger in '99 than we are [now]."

On the Stars mentality heading into each game
"There's really an air of confidence among the guys saying every time we go out there should be chances to score and opportunities to control the pace of the game. When it doesn't happen, we have a little bit of frustration that creeps into the game. That's because some teams are realizing that they have to play patient (against us). Plus, lately we've had great first periods. Teams just want to get out of the first period tied or down just one goal. We've been coming out of the gates hard. Teams that have frustrated us are the teams that played a good 40 minutes. Game is tied going into the third and we start thinking that we should be up by two or three goals. It's not happening. We take the odd penalty here and there. We find ourselves coming from behind.
On the rules changes in the NHL this season

"There is so much more room in the neutral zone. The neutral zone is great. It's wide open. You can come through there at 100 mph and you don't get touched. But there have been games where it [obstruction] has come back into the game a little bit. They try to resurrect it and try to get back where it was in October. There is a lot more room to be creative and let some speed come and a lot of the games have been up and down and the pace has been great."
On the consistency of the calls by refs this season

That's the problem. I think every ref has their own little personality they want to take to the game. They call certain penalties and that is the thing that frustrates us -- players and coaches. Every ref is different. That's their judgment call. They see what they want to call. Some nights you get it and some nights you don't. That is the part that creeps in our game. We get frustrated. Those are probably games that we probably lost."

On reports that his musical tastes differ from the majority of hockey players

"It tends to differ a little bit. I can't handle the head banging stuff every night.

[What he has in his CD Player] I've got Stones, Styx, like old Van Halen.
Eagles. Old Van Halen. Occasionally [disco] will be in there. Some of the guitar-head, banging stuff wears you out after while.

[Can you get fired up hearing the same warm-up music every night?] Not really.

[On the Pantera song that was popular during the '99 championship season] That's a whip. That was good in '99. They've got to do a new version."

On whether Dave Tippett, being a former NHL player, has a different perspective than Ken Hitchcock
"I think that too is a big difference from Hitch. Hitch was very X's and O's and diagramming plays. Tip understands the game. Nothing ever drawn up on the board happens on the ice. We go through plays. We talk about stuff. X's and O's. Where to be. What to do. And you go out there and it never happens that way. That's the difference between football or basketball. You have set plays. If it doesn't work, the play is over, it's whistled and you start over. Hockey you can go three or four minutes, five minutes without a whistle."

On whether they have set plays
"It's a read and react game. There's not a set play like football, where you've got a guy who goes to the sidelines for an out or a deep pass or handoff. You find the open ice, try to find the open ice. Billy [Guerin] tries to find an open area and I try to get the puck to him or Ulf [Dahlen]. Defensively there is a little more diagram to it. It's one on one, it's zone, penalty killing, power play a little bit. Five-on-five it's tough to draw it up on the board."
On whether he's a faster skater than Bill Guerin, who won the fastest skater competition at the All-Star game
"Once he gets going Billy is really fast. Maybe not blue line to blue line, but once he has time to get his speed up and he get's going [he's very fast]. Mine is a little more short. It takes me a little time to get going but I am kind of more short area. But once Bill gets going he's got great speed, big long strides. Once he made that second turn in that fastest skater thing it was over. He was blowing it out."

Friday, December 6 vs. Detroit (T, 3-3)

Stat line:
One assist
Plus/minus: E
25:00 of ice time, 28 shifts
• 8:10 power play
• 0:43 shorthanded
13 of 29 faceoffs won (44%)
Three shots on goal

• Modano vs. Detroit, career: 68 games, 25 goals, 33 assists, 58 points
• In two meetings this year, NHL powers Dallas and Detroit have decided nothing – two 3-3 ties, one on each team’s home ice.  They face each other two more times this month and won’t play each other again unless they meet in the playoffs.


Mike took time to answer a few questions with Daryl Reaugh during warm-ups prior to the telecast:
Reaugh: With the Red Wings in town tonight, is this a welcome challenge for you guys?

Modano: I think so.  It’s been awhile.  The last one we were really excited about was Colorado (on Nov. 15).  That was really fun and the fans were into it.  Right now, we really don’t care who we are playing.  We just want to keep the momentum going, especially at home.  It should be a good test for us tonight.

Reaugh: Both yourself and the Red Wings have had an awful time with the officiating in the first part of the season.  Special teams have been so important, do you see that as a key here tonight as well?

Modano: Yeah, we’re going to try and keep it five-on-five as much as possible.  There are going to be some calls, obviously, every game there’s at least two or three against each team.  We’re going to try and keep our legs going, skate the game.  There a great shooting team, so we are going to have to be in position and not allow them to get in front of us too much.
Reaugh: In the game in Detroit, your left winger Ulf Dahlen was fantastic.  Does your unit feel an extra pressure to perform in a game like this?

Modano: A little bit.  The eyes are on you a little bit more when you have competition like this.  Hopefully, we can come out and have a great first period.  Our line has played real well the first 20 minutes.  If we can do that and get Ulf and Billy (Guerin) crashing the net and making plays, that’s their strength and I’ll just try and get them the puck.

The Week Ahead
Wednesday, December 11 vs. Los Angeles (FSN, 7:30)
Friday, December 13 vs. Atlanta (FSN, 7:30)
Sunday, December 15 at Chicago (Ch. 27, 7:00)