With last night's game billed as the dress rehearsal for the season, and a lineup stacked with NHL regulars, it ended up being fresh(ish)-faced youth who made the real impact on the game. Alex Chiasson scored twice and Valeri Nichushkin displayed amazing individual effort in scoring a pretty goal, even diving through the air afterwards to make it look really good.
The exciting thing is that it seems these two are gonna really get a chance to play. Nichushkin it looks like will be slotting in as a third line winger, initially at least, while Chiasson is being given every chance to make his mark as a top six forward. And he's making that mark. A large part of the reason for his success is his ability to drive the net and make things happen. Lindy Ruff had this to say about it:
"He's great around the front of the net. I think he's going to become our net-front guy on the power play on a permanent basis. I don't think there is anyone better right now... When I was shooting some wide [in practice], it was incredible how he was able to redirect the wide ones back into the net... I think the key thing is there's no fear when the shot is coming. The guys who tighten up, they have a tough time tipping or finding rebounds. But there are special guys around the front of the net, and he could be one of them." [Sports Day DFW]
High praise for a guy nobody had heard of midway through last season.
Depth scoring is always crucial for a team to be competitive. If Chiasson and Nichushkin can continue to contribute as they have this pre-season, and our other young guys in Benn and Seguin live up to their billing, the Stars just might be shaping up to be a dynamic team to watch.
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Mike Heika talks about the pushmi-pullyu dynamic of Lindy Ruff and Jamie Benn; complementary leadership styles that could be the start of something great. [Sports Day DFW]
And a couple of thoughts from Tim Cowlishaw on the Stars. Very brief and only mildly insightful. Ignore this link. [Sports Day DFW]
So our famous pitching duo, Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, get another ensemble recognition, this time as players likely to jump to the next level in production. [Home Ice]
Blues win the Cup! Blues win the Cup! According to EA Sports anyway. Which means it's pretty much a foregone conclusion. Wanna know what else they predict? Stars finishing 7th in the West. Finally! A national publication that predicts the Stars will make the playoffs! Sort of. [EA Sports]
And I know. It's like being introduced to the red-headed cousin who the family expects you to entertain all weekend. But here's a 'Getting to Know' article on new division rivals the Winnipeg Jets. [Sports Day DFW]
Ovechkin to carry the Olympic torch. I love a bit of pageantry. [NHL.com]
After years padding out their point totals playing in the weakest division, I'm betting Vancouver are gonna faceplant when they suddenly have to play a majority of games against good teams. And Roberto Luongo is going to celebrate the resolution of the goaltender conflict with a shockingly poor season due to his focus on tweeting. Or maybe I'm just saying that 'cause I was in the Shark Tank on Tuesday to see the Canucks get trounced by San Jose. But what is going on in Vancouver? [NHL.com]
'NHL Rivalries' on NBC? This one's gonna be fun... [NBCSN]
I feel like I'm linking to a link with this one, but Sports Illustrated have a preview of their latest issue, which is itself a preview of the hockey season. Confused? Good. Go buy the magazine. [SI.com]
And this is the last time I'll talk about it. Promise. You might not believe it, but an NHL referee got a call wrong. Goalies are to be penalized for removing their helmets to fight! That'll teach Jonathan Bernier and Ryan Miller. Something. Maybe. [Yahoo Sports]