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Saturday Links: Faksa Is Becoming A Key Player For The Stars

Faksa’s two way play helps on PK and faceoffs. Sharp slots back into the lineup and can we count on Captain Benn’s point totals to grow after Christmas break

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Florida Panthers v Dallas Stars Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Last season Stars forward Radek Faksa made his NHL debut against tonight’s opponent the Florida Panthers. He has turned that opportunity into becoming an important two way player for Dallas.

He's mainly the guy who can steady the ship, whether it is in one end or the other," said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. "If we need a big defensive shift he is on the ice. When we need a big penalty kill, he is leading it off, and when we need a big faceoff win, he is the guy I am sending over the boards. He's a big man who can play physical and can get in on the forecheck and create his own chances. He's led a line that has been pretty consistent, probably the most consistent line for us. He's been an important piece for us.

Faksa a Czech native, has had an interesting journey on his way to the NHL. Leaving home at age 11 and living in a hotel room by himself. He has battled injuries in Juniors and with the Texas Stars. All have helped him become the player the Stars anticipated when drafting him in the first round of 2012, 13th overall.

If you are not familiar with his story, this TSN video from his draft year has the details.

Tonight he will get to play against boyhood idol and fellow Czech, Jaromir Jagr and hopes to get a few hits in on him.

It's crazy. I wasn't even born yet and he had two Stanley Cups already. I remember when I was a little kid they played the Olympics in Nagano. I was like four-years-old, and I was already watching the Olympics. The Czechs won the gold and that was my first memory of him.

More here from Mark Stepneski. (Stars Inside Edge)

Two other takes from Mike Heika (DMN) and (Blackout Dallas)

Some good news on the injury front as Patrick Sharp will play tonight.

Dallas will look to extend their streak tonight to 4 in a row against the Panthers. The Preview can be found here. (Stars)

Sean Shapiro held his weekly mail bag session yesterday topics included: lineup changes, goalies, and trade talk (Wrong Side of the Red Line)

Dallas Stars v Calgary Flames Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images

Now that the Christmas break is over should we look for Jamie Benn’s point totals to go up?

In the last three seasons, Benn has come out of the holiday break and produced: 39 points in 39 games in 2013-14, 44 points in 44 games in 2014-15, and 40 points in 42 games in 2015-16 (Dobber Hockey)

The Stars got some help, last night as 2 of the 3 Central Division (MDK) teams that played last night lost.

Predators backup goalie Juuse Saros shut out the Blues 4-0 (On the Forecheck)

Hurricanes goalie Eddie Lack won the goalie duel with Blackhawks backup Scott Darling 3-2 (Canes Country)

One of the more intriguing battles tonight will see the Wild and the Blue Jackets put their winning streaks on the line. Minnesota has 12 wins in a row while Columbus has 14.

Are the Wild one of the teams that will move down in the standings once the calendar flips over to 2017? TSN’s Travis Yost seems to think so.

[The] Wild look like a potential regression candidate as the season progresses. Their 5-on-5 numbers are, at best, average. And while they have an exceptional penalty kill, their power play has been punchless. The Wild are different from the Blue Jackets in the sense that they seem to be heavily reliant on the rate at which shots find the net (especially in their defensive zone) as opposed to the frequency with which they are generating or deterring shots against.

The rest of the story here. (Hockey Wilderness)

NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at Dallas Stars Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Does Hawks defenseman Duncan Keith have the numbers to win this season’s Norris Trophy? Keith is 6th in average ice time with 26:07 a game and has 25 points in 35 games. (Fanrag Sports)

Speaking of defensemen every team is looking for top 4 candidates but they can be found if you know where to look. Sharks Dman Brett Burns was traded by the Wild and other trades. (Sportsnet)

Toronto’s Coach Mike Babcock took a big gamble 2 years ago when he left the Red Wings to take the Leafs job. With the Wings problems with the salary cap, too much money tied up in older players, and close to having their playoffs streak snapped, maybe Babcock knew what he was doing. (The Athletic)

No surprise but in The Hockey News “Year in Review” look at the MVP for all 30 teams in 2016, that Jamie Benn wins for the Stars. (THN)

You have probably seen internet sites advertising low cost hockey jersey, that are cheaper than the NHL Official Shop. Well the NHL and other pro sports, have won a major lawsuit shutting down many of these sites. (TSN)

Capitals winger T. J. Oshie thinks it would be a mistake if NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, announces next week to skip the 2018 Olympics. (The Washington Post)

Should the NHL and other leagues follow College hockey stance on fighting? Last season there were only 4 fighting majors called and only 20 in the last 4 years. Compare that with the NHL’s 3091 AHL 7087 and WHL (Canadian Juniors) 4411 fighting majors during the same 4 years. College players are automatically suspended 1 game for a fight. (Grand Forks Herald)

Finally 30 years ago yesterday mark the anniversary of the bus crash that killed 4 Swift Current Broncos players. One of those was Stars Coach Lindy Ruff’s younger brother Brent. A memorial was unveiled yesterday at the crash site.