If you believe the well-founded gossip, it’s looking like Mike Modano’s career – either with the Stars or in the NHL – is about to end. Some have discussed the fact that there isn’t a whole lot of fanfare about his departure from the league, but I’d point to his healthy career (and middling recent years) and a mediocre season for Dallas as the main reasons why he might go out with a bit of a whimper.
That doesn’t change the fact that there are still some compelling retrospectives regarding the face of Stars hockey. Defending Big D gathers some of the best stories about Modano in this fantastic post. My favorite excerpt is from Dallas sports radio personality Bob Sturm.
As I have said a dozen times, Mike Modano was perfect for a city like Dallas. Maybe there were better players, but there wasn’t anyone more perfect for selling Texas on this game.
He was American. He was good looking (so they tell me). He was the best player on the ice – even if you were watching your first hockey game, you could tell he was the best player and surely the most electrifying.
Think about it. We all feel like Dallas is the exception to the rule when it comes to the NHL in the sun belt. In many of the cities, it has only been an unqualified success in years where those teams win the Stanley Cup. But in Dallas, the Stars have generally been well supported and followed. I submit to you that is a result of the instant magnetic force that Mike Modano and some of his friends had on the city.
Be sure to check out that roundup of great stories. Also, in the spirit of draft debates, I wrote a quick blurb for Battle of California about the Minnesota North Stars’ decision to draft Mike Modano over Trevor Linden many moons ago.
I’m sure Brandon (formerly of the aforementioned Defending Big D) will have plenty more Modano talk going forward.
Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk has been the most difficult goalies to score against this season. Leave it to a high-level player like Leon Draisaitl to make it look this, well, “easy.”
Draisaitl scored his 13th goal of 2016-17 by capping this pretty give-and-go play with Benoit Pouliot. You can see the frustration from Dubnyk at the end of the tally, as if he was saying “How was I supposed to stop that?” (though probably with more colorful language).
Draisaitl came into Friday with five goals and three assists in his last five games, so he’s been almost unstoppable lately.
Read more about his rise here.
In his fifth NHL game, intriguing Washington Capitals prospect Jakub Vrana scored his first NHL goal (and point).
Let’s be honest, though; Evgeny Kuznetsov deserves plenty of the credit, as he sent a fantastic pass for Vrana’s tap-in tally.
See it for yourself:
Even if that was mostly Kuznetsov, Vrana has been getting his chances so far.
He generated four shots on goal in two separate occasions so far in his four games of NHL action, so maybe he was due for a chance like this.
Considering he’s just 20 years old, the Capitals could get used to Kuznetsov to Vrana.
Update: The Capitals won 4-1, and Vrana’s first goal wasn’t the only noteworthy “first.” After piling on shots, John Carlson finally scored his first goal of the season:
No one’s going to confuse Dmitry Kulikov with Jack Eichel, but the Buffalo Sabres are likely happy to have him back after a long absence, too.
The Sabres have been on an upward trend lately (5-2-2 in their last nine games), and now they get a key defenseman back against the Washington Capitals on Friday night.
Kulikov last played on Nov. 9 and hasn’t recorded a point in 12 games, making for a tough start to his stint with the Sabres. Maybe he’ll begin to get a little more traction with his new team tonight?
He’s far from the only returning Buffalo player, either, as Josh Gorges and Nicolas Deslauriers are also back in the mix. Kulikov is slated to be on the Sabres’ second pairing with Cody Franson.
Buffalo sent Brendan Guhle to the AHL to make room for these tweaks.
The Columbus Blue Jackets will be without captain Nick Foligno because of an illness on Friday, opening up an opportunity for interesting prospect Oliver Bjorkstrand.
The team tweeted out his linemates as Matt Calvert and Lukas Sedlak as a solid fourth line facing the Detroit Red Wings.
He failed to generate much (zero points, two shots on goal) in three games so far with Columbus this season, receiving about 25 minutes of ice time over that span.
With eight goals and 12 points in 19 AHL games so far in 2016-17, there’s the thought that he could eventually make the next step to becoming a decent contributor for the Blue Jackets.
Perhaps this will constitute his first real step in that direction?
Apparently this is a pretty abrupt situation for the 21-year-old: