There’s an argument to be had about whether hockey fights do what fans assume they’re meant for – that is, inspiring a frustrated team to victory. But yesterday, Jason Spezza gave a rare reminder that a guy his size can throw his weight around pretty effectively, and it actually worked as advertised.
With the Dallas Stars down 1-0 to the Philadelphia Flyers, Speznasty decided he’d had enough of them in general, and blueliner Brandon Manning in particular, early in the second period. Mike Heika talked to the Stars about the turning point represented by Spezza’s first fight since 2009:
Stars players said Spezza was fired up in the locker room during the first intermission before he fought Philadelphia defenseman [Manning] 1:53 into the second period. Three minutes after the unexpected bout, Radek Faksa tied the score and changed momentum.
"It was huge," Ruff said of the Spezza fight. "It's an out-of-character moment. When you're dealing with adversity, which we've dealt with, it's out-of-character moments that spur the team on."
Head coach Lindy Ruff says the Stars are looking for more of those unexpected moments as they strive to get back on track for good:
Ruff said the out-of-character moments are especially important now.
"Sometimes, that's one of your third or fourth lines getting a couple of goals. Maybe it's one of your skill guys going out and scrapping like that," Ruff said. "That was a big moment for our team. It made a statement that said, 'I'm going to bring some desperation, so you guys follow.'"
There’s more at Mike’s place. [SportsDayDFW]
Spezza-like-Pizza is already looking toward getting back-to-back victories, with the confidence boost that comes from ending the streak of the NHL’s hottest team.
And Razor talked about releasing the Cracknell and Spez getting fisty in a victorious Emporium.
With two very different results against the Flyers in the past week, Heika looks at how neutralizing Philly’s power play helped the Stars gain the upper hand. [SportsDayDFW]
Since we were speaking of Spezza, “The Franchise” provides a closer look into the Jason Spezza Scholarship program and how it’s affected one North Texas family.
Elsewhere in Stars news: Will “Stars Insider” really just start following Brett Ritchie and Devin Shore around for the rest of the season? Probably not, but these two childhood friends make for good company as they take in new cities and sights – in this case, Pittsburgh and the Duquesne Incline.
Last night, in the Central:
- The Minnesota Wild extended their winning streak to seven, beating the Arizona Coyotes 4-1. [Hockey Wilderness]
- After trading the lead four different times, the Chicago Blackhawks won the four-point game (and the Winter Classic preview) with a 6-4 victory over the St. Louis Blues. [Second City Hockey]
- And in Jimmy Vesey grudge-match news, the New York Rangers defeated the Nashville Predators in a shootout, 2-1. [Blueshirt Banter]
Former Star David Schlemko has bounced around the NHL quite a bit – but now he’s settled down with the San Jose Sharks, paired with former Star Brenden Dillon. [Sports Illustrated]
Elsewhere, Jhonas Enroth is back with the big team as the Toronto Maple Leafs struggle to get results in goal. [TSN]
From Jo Paw-velski to Hockey Night Punjabi to pretty much everything to do with Phil Kessel, Jen Neale recaps the NHL’s top 10 social-media moments of 2016.
As time runs short to commit to the 2018 Winter Olympics, the NHL and NHL Players’ Association schedule a meeting to decide what will happen. [Sportsnet]
Meanwhile, Team USA’s Kelli Stack offers her perspective on what it means to represent your country on the international stage.
Mike G. Morreale of NHL.com is at U.S. Junior Selection Camp, and here’s what he’s seen so far.
Meanwhile, Hockey Canada has already set its own World Juniors roster. Can a lineup free of ultra-prospects get the team back into the medals?
My piece on Canada's world junior team, one devoid of superstars, but one that might benefit from that: https://t.co/2XKDhh3lMC— Аrpon Basu (@ArponBasu) December 15, 2016
No one is more thrilled about the WJC’s approach than Mike Brophy, who explains why the juniors are “total hockey heaven.” [The Hockey News]
OK, Denis Gurianov may be more thrilled, as he gets ready to live “every player’s dream” of competing for his nation.
Julius Honka is back on the ice with the Texas Stars after getting injured during his stint in Dallas.
Before he went back, Lindy Ruff had a long talk with Honks about the “little things” that will make his NHL game even better, writes Sean Shapiro. [Wrong Side of the Red Line]
After the T-Stars narrowly lost Friday’s see-saw game against the AHL-leading Milwaukee Admirals, last night’s contest wasn’t nearly as close.
Finally: PensTV is still producing movie parody gold, and you can see for yourself in their remix of “Elf” starring Ian Cole, Matt Cullen, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Trevor Daley and most of the rest of the Penguins. Enjoy.