Brenden Dillon

The future of Dallas’ defense is bright

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One area of Dallas’ game that that doesn’t appear to need much tweaking is their defense.

There are a host of veteran guys leading the way. Newcomer Sergei Gonchar joins Trevor Daley, Stephane Robidas, and Alex Goligoski along the blue line. Those guys make up what would normally be a pretty good top-four, but it’s the young guys who will make the Stars a tougher team to contend with in the West.

Rookies Brenden Dillon, 22, and Jamie Oleksiak, 20, arrived on the scene and made an immediate impression with the big club. Dillon in particular showed what he was about in adding an immensely physical game with toughness (65 penalty minutes) and some offensive touch as well (3 goals, 5 assists). If you dig into his advanced statistics, you’ll see why many rave about him beyond the standard numbers.

Oleksiak’s game is a bit more raw, but in the 16 games he played he showed enough of what he can do to help make the Stars comfortable enough to move Philip Larsen this summer. That deal netted them Edmonton’s Shawn Horcoff who will help them out in other areas.

It’s Dillon in particular that has Stars faithful excited. His play was strong enough last season to earn him a spot on Team Canada’s roster for the World Championships. His mix of defensive and offensive abilities, accidental or not, has some in Dallas hoping he’ll be the next to wear the captain’s “C.”

The Stars certainly have their holes on the roster, but most of them are amongst their forwards. GM Jim Nill only addressed his blue line by adding Gonchar. With the rise of the kids through the system, his concerns can stay on improving the team elsewhere.

Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
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When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

(His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

First, the Kronwalling:

Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky

Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

Jack Eichel
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The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan


Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?