Dallas Stars v Phoenix Coyotes

2011-2012 season preview: Dallas Stars

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2010-2011 record: 42-29-11, 95 points; 5th in Pacific, 9th in West

Playoffs: Did not qualify

It’s never a good thing when ownership is a major storyline around a team. For the last few seasons, the Dallas Stars ownership has been a problem as the team has and an internal budget and has not been able to spend money like they used to. After narrowly missing the playoffs and losing their most dynamic player, Dallas acquired a new coach and handful of players as they look to transform the face of their team. Needless to say: transition can be tough.

Offense

In recent years, the offense has been the strongest part of the Stars’ lineup. They started last season with James Neal, Brad Richards, and Loui Eriksson creating one of the most dangerous lines in the entire NHL. A year later, Richards is the newest multi-millionaire in on Broadway and Neal has long since been traded to Pittsburgh for help on the blue line. The Stars will ask Mike Ribeiro to move up in the lineup to top-line center with captain Brendan Morrow and newly acquired Michael Ryder on his wings. Loui Eriksson will play with 22-year-old budding star Jamie Benn on another scoring line — potentially with uber-pest Steve Ott. After the top two lines, there’s a huge drop off in offensive talent on the third and forth lines this season. What was a strength only a season ago could be the Achilles’ heel this year.

Defense

Unlike the offense, the Stars defense is in a better position that it was at this time last season. Stephane Robidas is one of the most underrated defensemen in the league and Alex Goligoski showed that he just needed some playing time after he was acquired from the Penguins. Niklas Grossman looks like a solid second pairing defenseman and Trevor Daley continues to tease with potential. Newcomers Sheldon Souray and Adam Pardy will fill depth roles and will join Mark Fistric as bottom pairing defenseman. The Stars bottom pairing guys were a liability at the beginning of last season. They shouldn’t be a huge problem this season.

Goalies

Kari Lehtonen had a breakout season last year proving that he was capable of carrying an NHL team for the majority of the season. The injury-plagued netminder appeared in 69 games last season and posted a decent 2.55 goals against and .914 save percentage. It wasn’t just his numbers that looked good – although they were good – it was the quality of the saves that he was able to make that made him so valuable to the Stars last season. On more than one night during the season, the Stars defense left Lehtonen alone to keep the team in the game. More often than not, he answered the bell. For that matter, Andrew Raycroft came in and showed that he can be an adequate back-up.

Coaching

Glen Gulutzan takes over for Marc Crawford behind the bench in Dallas. The first-time NHL coach has had great success in both the AHL (Texas Stars) and ECHL (Las Vegas Wranglers). Expect the Starts to play with much more defensive structure than they did while Crawford was at the helm. To a man, all of the players who played under him in Austin believe that he’s the right man for the job. Now it’s time to prove it.

Breakout candidate

Watch for Goligoski to take the Western Conference by storm this season. The ‘other guy’ in the James Neal trade showed in the second half that he has the potential to be a work-horse in Dallas. He’ll play big time minutes on the power play and his underrated defensive play will allow Gulutzan to play him in every situation. He never really got the chance to play extended minutes in Pittsburgh because of their depth on the blueline. He won’t have that problem in Dallas. Look for Goligoski to be among the top 10 in defensemen scoring this year.

Best-case scenario

The Stars can hope to have the same type of season that they just completed. They were in a playoff spot for the majority of the season and if it weren’t for a loss on the last day of the season, would have snuck into the 8th spot. Benn will have to step into a larger role this year and a full season with Goligoski will help solidify the blueline. If things fall right, the Stars may find themselves in the same position next April fighting for one of the last playoff spots.

Reality

Losing Richards creates a gigantic hole on the top line. There’s no other way to put it — a team that depended on their scoring last season lost their best scorer. The team challenged up until the last day of the season for a playoff spot last year, but this season looks like it could be a step backwards for the Stars. Look for them to finish fourth in the Pacific Division (an improvement from last season), but chances are they won’t be battling down the stretch for a playoff spot. Think less about the eighth or ninth seed and more along the lines of the 12th spot.

In wake of youth hockey brawl, Peters admits he did ‘not do a good job this weekend’

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This morning on Buffalo radio, former Sabres tough guy Andrew Peters offered a mea culpa of sorts regarding his role in a youth hockey brawl on Saturday.

Peters admitted that he did “not do a good job this weekend communicating” with his team that fighting is “unacceptable” in youth sports.

“I can’t discuss anything in regard to the altercation,” Peters added, per the Buffalo News. “I have to move on from that.”

From the Associated Press’ story on the brawl:

Former NHL enforcer Andrew Peters has been suspended indefinitely as coach of a youth hockey team pending a Buffalo police investigation into his role in an on-ice brawl.

Buffalo Junior Sabres president Kevyn Adams announced the suspension Sunday, a day after the melee occurred during a game between the Peters-coached 15-and-Under team and the Ontario-based Hamilton Junior Bulldogs.

A video posted on YouTube shows the fight escalating into the Sabres’ bench, when Peters becomes involved in attempting to separate the players. At one point, the 36-year-old appears to shove a Hamilton player backward onto the ice.

According to a person familiar with the situation, Peters told Junior Sabres officials that he slipped while attempting to get one of the Hamilton players away from Buffalo’s bench. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the conversation was to remain private.

Peters played 229 NHL games for the Sabres and Devils, racking up 650 PIM with just four goals and three assists.

Back-to-back hat tricks earns Forsberg first star of the week

NASHVILLE, TN - APRIL 17:  Filip Forsberg #9 of the Nashville Predators celebrates a goal against the Chicago Blackhawks in the second period of Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena on April 17, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
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With back-to-back hat tricks, plus two more goals to boot, Nashville’s Filip Forsberg was today named the NHL’s first star of the week.

Chicago’s Jonathan Toews and Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau were the second and third stars, respectively.

But Forsberg was a slam dunk for the top honor. After getting off to a slow start this season, the 22-year-old winger now has 24 goals — and, more importantly, his Predators have a seven-point playoff cushion.

The Preds went 3-0-1 last week, which included back-to-back wins over two tough opponents, Washington and Edmonton, over the weekend.

With three goals Thursday against Colorado, Forsberg became the first player since Alex Burrows in 2010 to register back-to-back hat tricks.

Waiver claims: Bolts get McKegg, Jackets snag Dalpe

SUNRISE, FL - OCTOBER 22: Shane Harper #38 celebrates his third period goal with Gregg McKegg #41 of the Florida Panthers against the Colorado Avalanche at the BB&T Center on October 22, 2016 in Sunrise, Florida. The Panthers defeated the Avalanche 5-2. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
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A pair of forwards were scooped off waivers on Monday morning.

The Lightning snared Greg McKegg from in-state rival Florida, while the Blue Jackets picked up journeyman Zac Dalpe from Minnesota, per ESPN.

McKegg, 24, was originally a Maple Leafs draftee (third round, ’10) that Florida acquired via trade two years ago. He appeared in 31 games for the Panthers this year, scoring six points, but also spent time with the club’s AHL affiliate in Springfield.

Dalpe, 27, has bounced around the league throughout his professional career, though he has spent the last two campaigns with the Wild organization. He’s appeared in more games for Iowa than Minnesota, scoring a goal and three points in nine NHL games this year.

There is a connection between Dalpe and Columbus. The former had a career year under Jackets head coach John Tortorella in Vancouver during the ’13-14 campaign — that season, Dalpe played 55 games and finished with four goals and seven points.

Red Wings extend Jensen for two more years

DETROIT, MI - JANUARY 16: Paul Byron #41 of the Montreal Canadiens battles for the puck with Nick Jensen #3 of the Detroit Red Wings during the second period  at Joe Louis Arena on January 16, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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The Detroit Red Wings have signed defenseman Nick Jensen to a two-year contract extension.

Jensen, 26, has three goals and five assists in 27 games this season.

It took the 2009 draft pick a while to get to the NHL, but with Jonathan Ericsson done for the season and Brendan Smith possibly getting traded before Wednesday’s deadline, Jensen should receive plenty of ice time down the stretch.

Below are the financial terms of the deal: