Dave Tippett back in the playoffs with Phoenix

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have to admit, it’s great to see Dave Tippett succeeding in Phoenix.
Tippett is a great coach and a tremendous person off the ice, and he
deserved a chance to rebound after being let go in Dallas last summer.

Gintonio of AZCentral.com
talked with Tippett about turning the
Coyotes around in his first season as coach.

“I’m really proud of the work these guys have put in.
It’s been a real good group effort with everybody. For me, making the
postseason, I said earlier I fully expected us to make the postseason.
Now the special time starts … a good year turns into a great year if
you can really play well in the playoffs.”

Gintonio also provides a bit of a barb in the direction of the Dallas
Stars, saying:

One year in six that Dave Tippett does not make the
playoffs apparently was one too many for the Dallas brass.

Today: Tippett has the Coyotes in the playoffs, and the Stars are not

As the Dallas Stars sit at home for the
second straight season, Tippett and his Coyotes will be taking on the
Red Wings in the playoffs. There’s going to be the inevitable “See! The
Stars should never have fired Tippett” cries, as the Coyotes take
advantage of a supposed Stars folly.

As much as I want Tippett to
succeed and see a good coach rewarded, he was not fired last summer
simply because the Stars made the playoffs. He was coaching a team that
had made it out of the first round just twice during his time there, and
consistently underperformed when it counted most. The Stars struggled
through horrid starts to the season two years straight, and there was a
sentiment he had lost control of the locker room.

It was time for
Tippett to move on, especially with Joe Nieuwendyk wanting the Stars to
head in a new direction. That he succeeds in Phoenix should have no
bearing on what happened last summer with Dallas.

After years of hype, McDavid to play first NHL game

Connor McDavid
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The hype surrounding Connor McDavid couldn’t be much greater, but finally expectations will start to give way to results.

The NHL career that’s been talked about for years will begin tonight when his Edmonton Oilers face St. Louis.

“It’s something that you dream of for so long,” McDavid told NHL.com. “The draft is one thing, but to finally be in this situation is another, so I’m really excited. It’s been a long road; it’s been a lot of hard work. I think a lot of guys’ stories are different in how they get here, but the one common theme is hard work and my story is not any different that way.”

McDavid has transformed the Oilers with his mere presence. Its breathed fresh optimism into a city that have watched this team struggle in its efforts to dig out of the NHL basement. One also has to wonder if Peter Chiarelli would be the team’s new general manager and Todd McLellan its new head coach if Edmonton hadn’t won the draft lottery.

But where will he lead Edmonton? Will he be just the sixth 70-point rookie of the salary cap era? Will he struggle out of the gate, putting the hype into question? Perhaps he’ll draw comparisons to Steven Stamkos, who had a modest rookie campaign by the standards of a highly regarded top pick, but has nevertheless gone on to become a superstar.

That would surprise Stamkos as the Lightning captain feels McDavid is better than he is currently. Just further proof that those lofty expectations are coming from all sides.

“You don’t want to put too much weight on his shoulders; he’s an 18-year-old kid,” Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli said. “I don’t care how good he is or how good he’ll be, it’s a lot to shoulder if you’re supposed to be the guy and you’re the only guy. Fortunately we have a lot of high-pedigree players that are high picks who have gone through similar situations that he’s going through.”

Edmonton certainly has no shortage of first overall picks, but none as highly regarded as McDavid. But then, few ever are.

Related: There’s ‘a real positive vibe’ in Buffalo, where Eichel will make NHL debut tonight

There’s ‘a real positive vibe’ in Buffalo, where Eichel will make NHL debut tonight

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Jack Eichel didn’t disappoint in the preseason, finishing with six points in four games, including two shorthanded goals.

Tonight in Buffalo, his NHL career will start for real when the Sabres host the Ottawa Senators in regular-season action.

“It’s something I’ve dreamed of my whole life, stepping foot on that ice and making the NHL,” Eichel said, per NHL.com. “It’s kind of been a whirlwind, but you’re finally playing hockey for a living and everything you’ve done your whole life is to get to this point. It’s pretty special.”

The 18-year-old’s debut was front-page news this morning in Buffalo, where the Sabres have been among the NHL’s worst teams since last making the playoffs in 2010-11.

Eichel front page

Granted, even with the additions of Eichel, Ryan O'Reilly, Evander Kane, Robin Lehner and Cody Franson, expectations for 2015-16 remain modest for the new-look Sabres. Certainly, a spot in the playoffs would count as a surprise.

But for the fans of a team that’s barely possessed the puck the past couple of years, it’s night and day.

“People are excited,” GM Tim Murray said earlier this week. “It’s great. They think we’ve improved, and there’s a real positive vibe, I believe.

“That’s what I said to our coaches, ‘I want everybody to be positive. I’m the only guy in the organization allowed to be negative.’ That’s the way I wanted it. If I’m the most negative guy in the city about the team, that’s pretty good.”