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Dallas Stars Training Camp Observations, Day 2: Jussi Rynnas, John Klingberg Standout in Scrimmage

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The battle for backup goaltender will be closely watched this preseason, and Jussi Rynnas is the first to truly standout.

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The Dallas Stars held another scrimmage on Saturday, in front of a rather spirited crowd at the Fort Worth Convention Center. This time Jason Spezza's team took on Jamie Benn's squad, with Tyler Seguin's group getting the focus in the morning practice and drills session. The game was once again an up-tempo affair that had several big plays up and down the ice, including another crazy goal by Jason Spezza, but Benn's squad held the advantage for most of the game thanks to the strong play in net by Rynnas.

The backup goaltender position is one that will be highly contested in camp and preseason and with Kari Lehtonen likely getting most of the minutes in preseason games this is the first chance for either Lindback or Rynnas to step up and start standing out.

Rynnas was very strong on Saturday, making several nifty stops in tight as well as using his tremendous size to his advantage to take up space in the net and cut down on shooting angles. He showed good sight in tracking the puck through traffic and was poised when play broke down in tight and he was forced to scramble to take away scoring chances.

The big Finn also took on Julius Honka twice on penalty shots, and stymied the skilled defenseman both times.

The scrimmage went to 4-on-4 for the final seven minutes of the game and down two goals, Team Spezza pulled the goalie for nearly five minutes of 5-on-4 advantage and behind the power of Spezza, Hemsky, Daley, Jordie Benn, Jokipakka and Honka really put the pressure on Rynnas and provided a good test for the Finnish netminder. Daley was able to score on another great play in tight, but Rynnas was certainly impressive in his first true action as a Star.

Other observations:

  • Jamie Oleksiak had another scrimmage where he didn't do much, positive or negative. It's tough to really gauge him on the ice right now because he isn't making mistakes, but also isn't really standing out either aside from his noticeable size.
  • Jason Dickinson told me afterward he was a bit nervous before the scrimmage and it showed -- it's clear he's still quite a ways from truly being NHL ready. He's skilled and fast and has great vision but this was his first true test of NHL hockey and how it's played at a much different level than in the juniors. Centering a line between Jamie Benn and Colton Sceviour and then lining up across Jason Spezza for the opening faceoff is intimidating for anyone, let alone a 19-year center out of the OHL.
  • John Klingberg was very close to making the NHL out of camp last year, and he's definitely closer this season. He's certainly focused on his defensive game and showed up on Saturday with a well-rounded game up and down the ice -- he's super slick with the puck in traffic and has great vision when making the first pass out of the zone, and had one heck of an individual play one-on-one on Jason Spezza. One of the better defenseman in the scrimmage that's for sure.
  • Jyrkki Jokipakka continues to also stand out as a just a solid, solid defender with strong play both offensively and defensively. Right now, if I had to make the decision myself, I'd say Jokipakka has the upper hand in the battle among the young defensemen this camp.
There will be a full game-like scrimmage on Sunday beginning at 10 a.m.