The Dallas Stars keep setting new personal bests with their hot start to 2015-16, beating a 44-year-old franchise record after picking up two points last night. And we probably have the line blender to thank for it.
Lindy Ruff moved Valeri Nichushkin here, and Patrick Sharp there, and the NHL's No. 1 team regained its winning form against the Vancouver Canucks. The shuffle paid off particularly well for Nikachu, who played like a top-liner and earned a goal and an assist for his effort:
"I thought he did a great job," Ruff said. "He just keeps getting better and better. There's no secret. If you keep playing well, you're going to get to play. It's a good he's been able to learn from some adversity."
Nichushkin showed his strength when he bulled in on a breakaway and slipped a slick backhand past Vancouver goalie Ryan Miller in the first period to tie the game1-1. The 20-year-old then showed his immense skill when he shoveled a pass between his legs back to Seguin at the edge of the goal. Seguin pocketed his 14th goal of the season.
Ruff's decision to break up the "perfect" Mattias Janmark-Jason Spezza-Patrick Eaves line also paid off when new addition Patrick Sharp racked up the game winner and Spezza the empty-net coup de grâce:
"You don't want to get too high or get too low, I thought we had a good response," Sharp said. "We have found ourselves in third periods, up a goal or down a goal, and I think we have responded well."
Read the rest at Heika's Dallas Morning News blog. [SportsDayDFW]
Last night in homicide:
- The Colorado Avalanche took down the New York Rangers 2-1 to pull within three points of the Winnipeg Jets. #JustMDKthings [Denver Post]
- The red-hot Ottawa Senators beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3. [CBC]
- The Minnesota Wild beat
James Reimerthe Toronto Maple Leafs 1-0. [Reuters]
- And the Florida Panthers shocked the Nashville Predators 2-1. [FOX Sports]
Kari Lehtonen stepped smoothly back into the Stars' lineup thanks to the work he and Antti Niemi have done to manage their individual down time all season long, says Heika. [SportsDayDFW]
By his own reckoning, Tom Gaglardi is "not a good loser." He talked with Heika about building a winner in Dallas. [SportsDayDFW]
"Eat, drink and then bury": The Stars are now 5-0 in Vancouver post-Gaglardi Party, which is the fancy stat Razor wants you to know about.
And an ESPN Insider article calls Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn "the most potent one-two punch in the NHL." The Dallas Morning News has a summary. [SportsDayDFW]
You probably noticed that Canucks RW Jake Virtanen was nowhere to be found during last night's game. The up-and-coming rookie has been placed on IR and is "week to week" with a hip pointer. [CBS Sports]
And since we were talking about line juggling, Wild defenseman Ryan Suter and coach Mike Yeo are putting their differences over D-pair shifting behind them. [TSN]
Erik Johnson somehow suffered only a cut lip after taking an accidental skate to the face from Rick Nash during last night's Avalanche-Rangers tussle. [CBS Sports]
Devin Shore is, amongst other things, a great interview. Stephen Meserve sat down with the Texas Stars forward (and the AHL's leading goal scorer) to talk about his college education, the long and continuous process of getting better at hockey and the things that still make him feel like a rookie. You will enjoy it. [AHL]
Meanwhile, the Texas Stars have reassigned Maxime Lagace, Gemel Smith and Cole Ully to the Idaho Steelheads. [Texas Stars]
Mike Modano is looking forward to the Stadium Series Alumni Game, so now maybe we can. He shares his thoughts on the Stars' big season, too.
The Leafs are getting skunked in back-to-back games this year. Jonas Siegel examines their difficulties in converting on second nights. [TSN]
What are the 10 worst contracts in the NHL? The next time you feeling like fretting over the Stars' investments in goaltending, take a look at these and breathe a sigh of relief.
Is the All-Star novelty vote in danger? Last year's online fave, Zemgus Girgensons, and this year's runaway what-the-heck leader, John Scott, have joined Jaromir Jagr in asking fans to please, please vote for someone else. [Sports Illustrated]
Awareness of concussions and their potential long-term effects is at an all-time high in the NHL – and that's a good thing, says one of the league's all-time greats.
We like to talk sometimes about how goalies need to get out of their own heads, but one of their newest training tools takes the opposite approach. Kevin Woodley writes about how vision training has worked for Braden Holtby, James Reimer and Richard Bachman, among others. [NHL]