Were you not entertained?
I nearly stopped watching after the second period last night, but then plans changed and I was able to catch the rest of it. And was rewarded with one of the most entertaining periods of hockey I've seen this year. Of course, entertaining doesn't necessarily mean good or solid, and for every great chance for the Stars, there was an equally great chance given up at the other end. But if nothing else, it was fun.
Couldn't have quite predicted it either, after the second period, where a great foundation laid by the Stars was turned on its head, as PK Subban decided enough was enough, and that this talk of a potential Olympic snub needed to stop. After last night he should be a lock for Sochi. Should be? Ha! Who knows if that'll amount to anything. See the Team USA selection process.
And so a great first period was followed by a meh second period, was followed by an entertaining third period, and of course it all ended with a loss, with Valeri Nichushkin's first penalty shot goal going for nought.
He looked good though, which is lucky, as I was planning on leading with an article on him anyway, and that would have been awkward had he had a rubbish game. Recently we had the praise of Jaromir Jagr, saying Nichushkin has the tools to be the best player in the world someday. And we've seen his scoring pace pick up drastically as he's acclimated to the NHL. But I think this is the first time we get an in-depth interview with Big Val himself. My favorite part excerpted here:
"David Kerans: I would think [line juggling] complicates life for a player who is new to the team, because you are being asked to play with fellows whose characteristics you don't know well.
Nichushkin: Actually no, I would say the opposite. Here you get a chance to play with various linemates, and if you do well the coach might move you up to a higher line. In Russia, on the other hand, sometimes guys play really well but are stuck on the fourth line forever because the coaches don't like to play with the lines. But here, if a coach sees a guy is really performing, he'll move him up." [The Voice of Russia]
He wants to succeed, and works for his opportunities, but we've also seen him gracefully accept the occasional demotion implied in the above statement.
I like this kid.
* * *
And there are an awful lot of bullet points in this article, but it's a pretty good take on the game from the viewpoint of the Habs. [Eyes on the Prize]
The Texas Stars finished December with a 9-1-0-1, and they did that with both Colton Sceviour and Travis Morin missing time whilst playing with Dallas. Part of the reason? Curtis McKenzie, who received AHL Rookie of the Month honors for his efforts. [Sports Day DFW]
Steven Stamkos is skating again. Let me repeat that. Steven Stamkos is skating again. He broke his tibia on November 11th, and yesterday he was on the ice in full gear. He's still got a ways to go, but that's some impressive recovery time. Plus it gives me hope for Robi. [Sporting News]
So while I'm still hoping for at least an outdoor game, the Stars probably won't be in a Winter Classic anytime soon. Some thoughts on the direction the Classic might take in the coming years. [Puck Daddy]
KISS playing the outdoor game in LA? I didn't even know they were still alive. [NHL.com]
Shenanigans! Team USA knocked out of the World Juniors by Russia. And it got a little chirpy towards the end there. [Buzzing the Net]