Monthly Archives: September 2017

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It may only be the preseason, but a 5-1 loss to the Avalanche is still demoralizing for the Dallas Stars. This loss might also cause a shakeup in the near future.

“It’s only the preseason, it’s only the preseason, it’s only the preseason…”

Dallas Stars fans are probably thankful for this statement today. That’s because on Thursday night, the Stars were victimized by the Colorado Avalanche in a 5-1 routing. It was the Stars’ second preseason game and their first on the road.

The Stars went with a primarily young roster while the Avs included plenty of veterans in their lineup. Experience ended up beating exuberance pretty handily.

There’s no need to sugarcoat it: Dallas was beat pretty horribly. The Avalanche scored three goals on their first three shots in the first six minutes of the game. That’s a lot of firsts to be on the wrong side of.

Kari Lehtonen started the game 0-3 in net, the Stars looked weak and spotty on defense, and the offense had little momentum.

Roope Hintz found a power play goal for the Dallas Stars midway through the third period, but that’s about all there was to celebrate. It was an ugly loss and gives the team plenty to think about  going forward.

But remember: it’s only the preseason. The Stars used last night to examine the younger portion of their lineup and see what each player can offer to the team. The game was a heavy learning tool, but could also signal an upcoming time of change for the Stars.

In an interview following last night’s game, head coach Ken Hitchcock said, “I think [last night] was revealing, so some people might be a little surprised.” He said it in regards to the next roster cut, which is likely coming soon.

There was a positive and negative to the young lineup that the Stars fronted last night. The positive was that the young players had a chance to prove themselves against NHL-level competition. The negative was that they didn’t prove themselves against NHL-level competition.

As a result, Friday morning’s practice had a bit of a different look to it. The Stars split their remaining 53-man roster into two distinct groups. One group was comprised primarily of the players expected to play in the AHL or lower this season, and the other had the likely Dallas Stars members.

The groups were pretty self-explanatory, according to Sean Shapiro of NHL.com.

The Stars ended today by trimming their roster by one player. Nick Caamano, who had an outstanding training camp and Traverse City Tournament performance, was assigned to the Flint Firebirds of the OHL. Still, Caamano was one of the most impressive players this preseason and should be moving up very soon if he continues to develop.

The roster now stands at 52 players, but this is only the beginning. 29 more players need to be reassigned or cut before the season begins on Oct. 6. There are only four games and a little over a week left in the preseason to make these decisions.

It’s not going to be easy to whittle down, but games like last night’s provide some pretty clear evidence of what is working and what definitely isn’t working.

This loss may be quickly forgotten as the Dallas Stars move on to St. Louis to take on the Blues tomorrow night, but the remnants of the game will live on as the team continues to mold. Over the next few days, expect to see the list trimmed down significantly.

And don’t be surprised if some of the names on Thursday night’s roster are included, because that lineup obviously did not work.

But remember: it’s only the preseason.

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ANAHEIM >> When it comes to the new NHL season, Sami Vatanen’s best bet is to arrive fashionably late.

The questions that surrounded his future with the Ducks for weeks early in the summer have given way to how much of the season he’ll miss because of surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder.

“It’s been a little different summer but it’s all good now,” Vatanen said earlier this week, following an informal workout at Anaheim Ice. “It’s all in the past now.”

The place will be bustling with activity Friday as the Ducks officially open training camp to prepare for the 2017-18 campaign. Vatanen won’t be a full participant, however. The shoulder is repaired and its response to his activity has been encouraging. But it is going to take time before it feels right.

Count on sometime in November for the Finnish play-making defender to see his first action – if all goes to plan.

“It’s not ready yet,” Vatanen said. “I’m progressing every day. I’ve been skating right now and doing a little bit of passing and shooting. It feels better every week. We’ve just got to keep doing what we’re doing and try not to have any setbacks.”

Last season was one Vatanen, 26, wants to push aside. His numbers plummeted to three goals and 24 points after consecutive seasons of 12 goals and 37 points, and nine goals and 38 points. Injury and illness made him miss 11 regular-season games and the shoulder cost him five in the playoffs.

Examinations during that time made it clear that it had to be addressed following the season. Simple rehabilitation might have been on the table but wasn’t a realistic option.

“Of course it was much easier to just fix it now so that it doesn’t bother me,” he said. “If I would have started to rehab and it doesn’t work, then I would have had to do that anyways later. I think it was a good time for it right away after the season. Get healthy after that.”

The Ducks expect Hampus Lindholm also will be missing from their blue line to open the season. Vatanen and Lindholm both eat up more than 20 minutes of ice time per night and play in virtually all situations. Their absence is one reason the team brought back Francois Beauchemin for a third stint.

At one point, Vatanen seemed headed for the expansion Vegas Golden Knights after a down season. Ducks general manager Bob Murray wasn’t prepared to give him away for low-ball offers and, instead, sacrificed Shea Theodore to protect his veteran and Josh Manson from the expansion draft.

Vatanen took a hometown discount in signing a four-year, $19.5 million contract extension, and the Ducks hope the feisty Finn returns to form, adding to a defense corps that is one of the team’s strengths.

Looking back at falling two wins shy of playing for the Stanley Cup, Vatanen mused and said, “it’s the little things that matter in the playoffs.”

“It’s all done and we learned from it and I think we’re ready for this season,” he added. “Go a little bit further.”

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NHL News

NHL News

 

New Jersey Devils center Nico Hischier, the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, will be one of many young players participating in prospect tournament games through Tuesday.

His first game, against the Buffalo Sabres at 7 p.m. Friday as part of the Prospects Challenge at HarborCenter in Buffalo, and all prospect tournament games will be available to stream on NHL.com (see schedule below).

The Prospects Challenge features the Devils, Sabres, Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins and runs through Monday.

The 2017 Rookie Tournament, at Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto, runs through Sunday and includes the Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens.

The Vancouver Canucks host the 2017 Young Stars Classic at South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton, British Columbia. That event also includes the Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets and goes through Monday.

The Traverse City Prospects Tournament features the Detroit Red Wings, Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild, New York Rangers and St. Louis Blues. They will play at Centre Ice Arena in Traverse City, Michigan, through the championship game Tuesday.

The San Jose Sharks will host the 2017 Prospect Showcase at Solar4America Ice in San Jose starting Saturday. The event includes the Arizona Coyotes, Anaheim Ducks and Avalanche and runs through Tuesday.

Below is the schedule of games by tournament:

The Prospects Challenge

Penguins vs. Bruins, Sept. 8, 3:30 p.m. ET
Sabres vs. Devils, Sept. 8, 7 p.m. ET
Devils vs. Penguins, Sept. 9, 3:30 p.m. ET
Sabres vs. Bruins, Sept. 9, 7 p.m. ET
Bruins vs. Devils, Sept. 11, 12 p.m. ET
Sabres vs. Penguins, Sept. 11, 7 p.m. ET

Traverse City Prospects Tournament

Blue Jackets vs. Stars, Sept. 8, 3:30 p.m. ET
Blues vs. Wild, Sept. 8, 4 p.m. ET
Red Wings vs. Hurricanes, Sept. 8, 7:30 p.m. ET
Hurricanes vs. Rangers, Sept. 9, 3:30 p.m. ET
Blackhawks vs. Red Wings, Sept. 9, 4 p.m. ET
Stars vs. Blues, Sept. 9, 7 p.m. ET
Wild vs. Blue Jackets, Sept. 9, 7:30 p.m. ET
Blues vs. Blue Jackets, Sept. 11, 3 p.m. ET
Stars vs. Wild, Sept. 11, 3:30 p.m. ET
Hurricanes vs. Blackhawks, Sept. 11, 6:30 p.m. ET
Rangers vs. Red Wings, Sept. 11, 7 p.m. ET
7th Place game, Sept. 12, 3 p.m. ET
5th Place game, Sept. 12, 3:30 p.m. ET
3rd Place game, Sept. 12, 6:30 p.m. ET
Championship game, Sept. 12, 7 p.m. ET

2017 Young Stars Classic

Oilers vs. Flames, Sept. 8, 7 p.m. ET
Canucks vs. Jets, Sept. 8, 10:30 p.m. ET
Jets vs. Oilers, Sept. 9, 10:30 p.m. ET
Flames vs. Canucks, Sept. 10, 5 p.m. ET
Jets vs. Flames, Sept. 11, 1:30 p.m. ET
Canucks vs. Oilers, Sept. 11, 5 p.m. ET

2017 Rookie Tournament

Maple Leafs vs. Canadiens, Sept. 8, 7 p.m. ET
Maple Leafs vs. Senators, Sept. 10, 4 p.m. ET

2017 Prospect Showcase

Sharks vs. Avalanche, Sept. 9, 7 p.m. ET
Ducks vs. Coyotes, Sept. 9, 10 p.m. ET
Sharks vs. Ducks, Sept. 10, 6 p.m. ET
Coyotes vs. Avalanche, Sept. 11, 10 p.m. ET
Avalanche vs. Ducks, Sept. 12, 3 p.m. ET
Sharks vs. Coyotes, Sept. 12, 6 p.m. ET