New tweaks and returning elites could make special teams really special, writes Matthew DeFranks. Plus, where to watch preseason games, the NHL’s crackdown on cross-checking, and more.
The Dallas Stars return to American Airlines Center tonight. Their preseason contest with the Florida Panthers will be a good opportunity to see how the team is tweaking its system. And if the past is prologue, it could also be a great time to see if the power play is as powerful as it stacks up to be.
The Dallas Morning News’ Matthew DeFranks has kept a close eye on the Stars throughout the preseason to date, and he writes that head coach Rick Bowness is rolling a pair of power-play units with “more skill than Dallas has had in recent years”:
On the first unit, John Klingberg manned the point, Alexander Radulov the net, Joe Pavelski the slot and Jason Robertson and Roope Hintz the right and left flanks, respectively. On the second unit, Ryan Suter was up top, with Jamie Benn at the net-front, Denis Gurianov as the bumper, Miro Heiskanen in the right circle and Wyatt Johnston [subbing in for Tyler Seguin] in the left….
Radek Faksa is no longer needed on the man advantage. Neither is Esa Lindell or Joel Kiviranta. All three of those players are there to ensure that the Stars don’t have to give PP minutes to Ty Dellandrea, Tanner Kero, Justin Dowling, Sami Vatanen and Joel L’Esperance, like Dallas had to last season.
Indeed, the sheer number of skill players returning from injury has left the Stars with an embarrassment of riches in special-teams options:
“The potential is two really good units,” Bowness said. “Ryan Suter is going to help us back there. Miro looked really good on the half-wall, we know what the other guys can do. We expect to have one of the top-ranked power plays in the league and we’re also working on our penalty kill at the same time.”
The units themselves are fluid, as players rotate around the zone to retrieve pucks and support teammates, they will move out of their assigned role. It’s something Bowness actually wants from his players: the ability to read off their teammates and counter aggressive penalty kills.
Matt has more. [SportsDayDFW]
You can listen to tonights Stars vs. Florida Panthers game on The Ticket – and you can watch it if you get Bally Sports Southwest Plus (or ESPN+ if you’re out of market).
The Captain, a couple Finns, and some new faces, too, here’s a preview of preseason game ✌️
— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) September 29, 2021
And guess what, friends – you’ll be able to watch the Stars vs. the Arizona Coyotes in the Kraft Hockeyville preseason game, no matter where you are.
BROADCAST UPDATE: The Kraft @HockeyvilleUSA game between the @DallasStars and @ArizonaCoyotes at the El Paso County Events Center on Sunday, Oct. 3 at 7 p.m. MT will be streamed live on https://t.co/M27Gi40ACC.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) September 29, 2021
A couple of gameday news bites on Jani Hakanpää and Antonio Stranges.
Injury updates from Rick Bowness: Jani Hakanpää has a broken pinky finger and will skate tomorrow, and the team hopes he’s ready for Opening Night. Antonio Stranges (shoulder) will skate tomorrow.
— Matthew DeFranks (@MDeFranks) September 29, 2021
And another important injury update direct from Tyler Seguin:
Tyler Seguin: “I don’t really think about the injuries that much anymore, which is great. I just sat back after a few hard days of camp and was laying on the couch and was like ‘You know what, I don’t feel anything right now. I don’t feel any pain.’ So that’s pretty great.”
— Matthew DeFranks (@MDeFranks) September 29, 2021
Around The Leagues
- Oskar Olausson scored his first goal on NHL ice (from a Val Nichushkin assist!), but the Colorado Avalanche lost a rematch with the Vegas Golden Knights, 4-3. [Mile High Hockey]
The 2022 Winter Classic will be played at night and will not co-star the Chicago Blackhawks, which are only two of the groundbreaking things about it.
More details from yesterday’s visit from Gary Bettman and co. >> https://t.co/3zcW9U9ogJ
— (@jessi_pierce) September 28, 2021
Toronto Maple Leafs star centre Auston Matthews participated in his first team practice Tuesday since undergoing off-season wrist surgery.https://t.co/esK9igNBeA
— CTV Toronto (@CTVToronto) September 28, 2021
And it looks as if Jonathan Toews is on track to return from his own struggles with a mystery malady that turned out to be chronic inflammatory response syndrome.
I’d imagine we won’t know if Jonathan Toews is playing Opening Night until the day comes, but he’s on the roster for tonight’s preseason opener and #Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton has been using him in training camp like he will.
— Joe Brand (@Joe_Brand1) September 29, 2021
Evander Kane keeps making the wrong kind of headlines. This time, it’s over his possible flouting of health and safety rules – although the NHL has declined to say which ones.
The NHL is investigating Evander Kane for a possible violation of league COVID protocols, sources tell @FriedgeHNIC, though details regarding the nature of the possible violation are unknown at this time.https://t.co/nLeR8VAq2r
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) September 28, 2021
Miro Heiskanen. Roope Hintz. Jason Robertson. Joe Pavelski. John Klingberg. Tyler Seguin. Alexander Radulov. Jake Oettinger. Jamie Benn. Denis Gurianov. Ryan Suter. Game on.
#FantasyHockey draft links:
Forward projections: https://t.co/mk3XJO71EJ
Top 250 rankings: https://t.co/bobjBonJFl
Mock drafts: https://t.co/ZUHLEgiFrz
Draft cheat sheet & podcasts: https://t.co/AmjBXqrsov
— NHL Fantasy on Ice (@NHLFantasy) September 29, 2021
The NHL will make it easier to call Rule 59 infractions this season, probably, maybe.
— Adam Gretz (@AGretz) September 24, 2021
Greetings From Scenic Cedar Park
Precision is pic.twitter.com/0owMyvdEsW
— Texas Stars (@TexasStars) September 29, 2021
Because it’s always the right time for more Rads. Enjoy.