Ken Hitchcock wants the Dallas Stars’ brightest lights to start playing like them, and he’s becoming increasingly blunt about it.
If you saw Hitchcock’s postgame interview last night, you saw him offer praise to the goaltending tandem of Ben Bishop and Kari Lehtonen on the backhand of a direct slap to the team’s brilliant but largely fallow forward corps:
"We're going to need both our guys, quite frankly, to be the story in the second half," Hitchcock said of Bishop and [Lehtonen]. "We're going to have to move ahead of 10th or 11th place in goals against. We're going to have to get into the top 10, because we're not scoring our way out of trouble ... We're going to have to win some games 2-1 or 3-2 here in the second half of the season."
Hitch also called out Alexander Radulov by name. The star wing’s hooking penalty in overtime proved a challenge that not even elite goaltending could overcome, and a penitent Radulov took full blame for the lost opportunity:
"It was really two poor penalties by a good player," Hitchcock said of Radulov. "It's not team discipline, it's individual. It's disappointing.
"Bishop gave us a chance; he was unbelievable," Radulov said. "I take responsibility and I need to make sure it won't happen again."
Mike Heika has more at The Dallas Morning News. [SportsDayDFW]
ICYMI, here’s that postgame video, just to prove you really saw Hitchcock say that:
"We can't continue to have the role players on the hockey club carry the hockey club. We need more from the people that you know exactly who I'm talking about." pic.twitter.com/6jpSnLMLML— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) December 17, 2017
It’s true – highlights aren’t as much fun after a loss. But just watch Gemel Smith scoop up all the style points on this goal from a perfect Remi Elie pass.
And Bishop was doing his part for the point, as shown by this emphatic skate save on a Wayne Simmonds one-timer.
Big Ben talked about the good (five points in four games) and the bad (too many penalties) as this road trip wraps up.
Ben Bishop shares his thoughts on how tonight's game ended and the positives that the Stars should take away from this trip. pic.twitter.com/MXvK8iPvyh— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) December 17, 2017
And the Stars need Antoine Roussel to stay healthy, because he’s actually really good for them.
Around the league(s)
Yesterday in the #MDK
- Matt Dumba scored twice and the Minnesota Wild kept Connor McDavid to a single assist, but the Edmonton Oilers took advantage of odd-man rushes and faltering special teams play to get a 3-2 win. [Hockey Wilderness]
- In the four-point game, Carter Hutton earned a 48-save shutout in his first game back from IR as the St. Louis Blues defeated the Winnipeg Jets 2-0. [St. Louis Game Time]
- The Colorado Avalanche couldn’t fully erase what was at one point a three-goal lead and lost a penalty fest to the Tampa Bay Lightning, 6-5. [Raw Charge]
- And Pekka Rinne got the shutout as the Nashville Predators swept their Western Canada road trip with a 2-0 win over the Calgary Flames. [Matchsticks And Gasoline]
Erik Johnson received a slashing minor, a boarding major, and a game misconduct for an ugly hit on Vladislav Namestnikov during the Avs’ loss to the Bolts. Should he receive a suspension as well? [Sportsnet]
As for last night’s NHL 100 Classic, the Ottawa Senators bested the Montreal Canadiens 3-0 in an icy outdoor face-off on Parliament Hill. Jordie Benn got mic’ed up pre-game just to tell you about how cold it was.
To deliver the results, the NHL posted a cool callback to the league’s earliest days (and scoresheets).
With so much national pride on display in Canada’s capital, why was #MelnykOut trending on social media? Kyle Cantlon examines a series of high-profile gaffes by the Sens’ owner and how they opened wounds both old and fresh in the Ottawa fanbase.
Hopefully the fans at least enjoyed the game, because it appears unlikely there will be another outdoor event in Canada next season. [Sportsnet]
Tyler Seguin, Sidney Crosby, Johnny Gaudreau and Nazem Kadri are among the players featured in this trend piece on how NHL coaches are trying to get their offensive powerhouses to play great defense as well. [AP via Sports Illustrated]
Coaches are putting a premium on players that can help keep the puck out of the net almost as well as they can put it in https://t.co/NEAlSjufYm— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) December 16, 2017
The Flames are suffering from terrible PDO at the moment, but at least their social media game is strong. Check out this SNL-style intro to last night’s game.
Live from Calgary, it's Saturday night! pic.twitter.com/PdUz4yRgzB— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) December 17, 2017
In international action, the feel-good story of the weekend comes from Team Kazakhstan, which earned promotion in Group A and will play in the U20 World Juniors for the first time in a decade in 2019.
Kazakhstan wins the U20 World Championship Division I Group A ahead of Latvia and earns promotion, will play at #WorldJuniors first time in 10 years next year in Vancouver & Victoria! https://t.co/uC1hZmQ0pP— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) December 17, 2017
Photos: Olivier Brajon & Patrick Pachod pic.twitter.com/YOw4uGcjf3
And in case you missed it, teams from Finland and Sweden, and two from the Czech Republic, have been confirmed for the Champions Hockey League’s Semi-Final Games in January.
Greetings From Scenic Cedar Park
The T-Stars got their leading scorer back when Jason Dickinson returned to Cedar Park.
The Boston Bruins have taken Christmas cheer right up to the edge of horror with some of the most aggressive holiday suits and accessories you’re likely to see in a single video. Enjoy, in moderation.