If there’s one thing the Dallas Stars like to do, it’s shuffle lines. Or, at least, when it comes to the forward lines. The team’s defensive pairs are typically left alone, although heading into the second half of the season, head coach Rick Bowness isn’t ruling anything out:
“It’s not written in stone that those four, Miro has to play with Esa and John has to play with Suter... Miro and Ryan have played together a little and the numbers have been good. John and Esa have been together for a long enough time. Depending on the game, depending on the situations, depending on the opponent and everything, we’ll be flexible with that.”
There could even be a mix-up in who the Top 4 defensemen are. Bowness has been impressed by Jani Hankanpaa, and says his physical style of play could lead to more minutes:
“Jani is probably our best defenseman right now at ending plays. He’s so big and strong. You saw him take out Eriksson Ek against Minnesota, and unfortunately the kid got hurt, but that’s what I’m talking about, getting in there and finishing the check and ending the play right there and getting the support. Jani, because of his size and his physicality, he’s probably our best at doing that right now.”
You can read more from Saad Yousuf here.
Scoring has been up across the league after the pause, providing a tougher challenge for Braden Holtby and Jake Oettinger:
The Stars have a long road ahead of them if they want to climb back into a playoff spot, even in terms of points percentage:
Around the League
Down 3-1, the Pens pull Casey DeSmith and then pull away from the St. Louis Blues, scoring four straight times to earn Pittsburgh’s ninth straight win.— PensBurgh (@Pensburgh) January 6, 2022
Sidney Crosby is bloodied by a punch but comes back strong with two points with a strong game. https://t.co/i9JtmkMxmi
Speaking of the Penguins, they’re the latest destination for Alex Nylander after making a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks:
TRADE ALERT : The Penguins have acquired forward Alex Nylander from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for forward Sam Lafferty.— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) January 5, 2022
Nylander, 23, is signed through the 2021.22 season and is valued at $874,125.
Details: https://t.co/CZuUyDxRxD pic.twitter.com/PW7zsYnObZ
Slowly but surely, Tuukka Rask is making his return to the Boston Bruins:
It’s not just the salary — team facilities are becoming a bit part of Free Agency:
The race to build the best facilities has evolved from a competition among the richest NHL teams to a necessity for all.— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) January 6, 2022
How pricey practice pads and locker rooms are reshaping the fight for free agents.@ryan_s_clark & @seanshapiro with more: https://t.co/PUw8kRTykX pic.twitter.com/CFJ3BSI9WW
With 14 goals in 25 games played, Cale Makar has been simply stunning.
Cale Makar's show-stopping goal against Chicago won't soon be forgotten, but his magic act has been there all season long. Sorry, NHL goaltenders.— The Hockey News (@TheHockeyNews) January 5, 2022
✍️: @Proteautype https://t.co/00MvNdHz3M pic.twitter.com/tsYCT38SwA
Speaking of exciting young players;
Jack Hughes is ready to shake up the NHL.— Emily Kaplan (@emilymkaplan) January 6, 2022
“You can sense the culture is changing. It's not an old man's game anymore. It's a lot of young kids coming in with confidence.”
Our video feature with Jack debuts on The Point today 3pm ESPN2.
Finally, here’s a look at the life of two-time Stanley Cup Champion, and Texas native, Blake Coleman:
His wife is a former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, his daughter is his good luck charm, Friends reruns are his salvation and pickle juice saved his career.— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) January 6, 2022
Meet Blake Coleman, the only born-and-raised Texan to win a Stanley Cup. (By @EricFrancis) https://t.co/5LnmTSGlEj