January was a bumpy month for the Dallas Stars, but they hope February will be more stable. They also expect to see a lot more Kari Lehtonen in net.
The team provided some promising updates to the Dallas Morning News on Sunday, including word that center Derek Roy should return from a groin injury tomorrow against the Colorado Avalanche.
The 29-year-old pivot hasn’t been in the lineup since a Jan. 24 loss against the Chicago Blackhawks, which was the night Jamie Benn’s signing was announced. Roy seems excited to see how Dallas’ planned one-two punch at center will finally look.
“He’s a really good player and he moves well for a big man. He’s got great hands, and I’m anxious to get out there and see what we can do,” Roy said of Benn. “We have to be strong in the center position. We need to be able to control the puck, get the puck to the net, and just control the game.”
Finishing chances will be tougher without Ray Whitney, who is expected to miss four-to-six weeks.
They might be tough to score on in February, though, as the team plans on playing Lehtonen,29, repeatedly this month.
“You look at the way February unfolds after tonight, and I see Kari Lehtonen playing almost every game,” Head coach Glen Gulutzan said. “He claimed himself today — and I could hear it in his voice and see it in his eyes — that he is not feeling well. It’s that time of year and [we] want to make sure he is ready because February is going to be a Kari Lehtonen month.”
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: