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Dallas Stars Daily Links: The Curious Case of Val Nichushkin's Development Curve

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Dallas' young superstar-in-waiting has the talent to power past his current struggles, says a teammate. Plus, a look at who scored their first NHL goals this weekend, and at who's (already?) in danger of falling out of the playoffs.

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Anyone who's caught up with the Dallas Stars in the past two seasons knows that Valeri Nichushkin is going to be good, and maybe one of the best. But when?

Nichushkin's struggles with a bad hip and the resultant rusty tools are also well known – to the point where head coach Lindy Ruff did the nearly unthinkable and healthy-scratched Val for Games 3 and 4 last week.

"I just think his decisions with the puck haven't been quick enough," Ruff said. "I want to see his feet going more and his decisions to be quicker. For him, to be effective, he has to move his feet, and he has to think the game quick."

But with injuries decimating Dallas' forward corps early, the team needs Beastmode Val more than ever. This is one of those times when you're glad you have players like Jason Spezza – another guy who knows a bit about lofty expectations – to share their wisdom both on and off the ice.

"I try to explain that young players go through this. I went through it; we all do," Spezza said. "He hasn't been game sharp, and I think he has to play. So let's get him out there, and we'll get playing again."

...

Spezza said Nichushkin just needs to trust his skill.

"He just looks a little slow, and he's not slow," Spezza said. "He's thinking too much. We need to just get out there and let his talent take over."

Did watching a couple of games help Nuke get a fresh perspective? What did you think of his performance against the Panthers?

There is plenty more at Heika's place. [SportsDayDFW]

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Elsewhere in Heika, his Stars-Panthers preview focuses on what's shaping up to be a season-long challenge for Lindy Ruff: managing Dallas' burgeoning stable of young talent. [SportsDayDFW]

So was that Tyler Seguin second-period goal offside? Stephanie @MyRegularFace Vail posted this, and commenters went full back-and-to-the-left on it. It was fun.

Victor Hedman wasn't on the ice for last night's Lightning win over the Sabres, but coach Jon Cooper seems to think he'll return sooner rather than later. [Tampa Bay Lightning]

Phil Kessel didn't score in his first game against his old team, but the Penguins beat the Maple Leafs anyway (and Marc-Andre Fleury was in net for the W in his 600th NHL game). [Washington Post]

The Leafs did get their first win for coach Mike Babcock the other night, at the expense of the Columbus Blue Jackets. [CBS Sports]

Sam Reinhart scored his first NHL goal last night. The Buffalo Sabres are happy about it.

So did Nikolay Goldobin, with a little help from Joe Thornton.

James Neal scored twice in regulation and sealed the deal in 3-on-3 OT to power the Nashville Predators past the Ottawa Senators last night. Thanks for nothing, old friend. (Kidding! Sort of.)

Unfortunately, Paul Stastny will miss the rest of the St. Louis Blues' October road trip with a lower-body injury. [Today's Slapshot]

Which 2015 NHL playoff teams are in the most danger of missing the postseason in 2016? Luke Fox puts forth eight candidates. [Sportsnet]

Tyson Barrie is the latest to join the march to the NHL principal's office. The Avalanche defender has been suspended for three games after a late hit on Anaheim D Simon Despres during the Avs' 3-0 win over the Ducks on Friday. [NBC Sports]

Finally: This is what happens when mascots get together. So much foam, so close to home. Hope your weekend is going great.