Jason Spezza

Under Pressure: Jason Spezza

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The Dallas Stars were able to end their five season playoff drought in 2013-14, but getting to advancing to the postseason was only the first step in their quest to reclaim the Stanley Cup.

They have an uphill battle ahead of them and are hoping that acquiring Jason Spezza over the summer will help them close that gap. Spezza, 31, had 23 goals and 66 points in 75 games last season, but was frustrated about his plus/minus rating and, according to Senators GM Bryan Murray, ultimately wanted out of Ottawa because he was blamed too often when the club didn’t win.

Although he asked to be moved, he was at least somewhat particular about his destination and went as far as to veto a trade to Nashville. Maybe the reason he ultimately agreed to go to Dallas was because he saw its potential, given that it’s led by 25-year-old Jamie Benn and 22-year-old Tyler Seguin.

It’s possible that the idea of being “just a piece to the puzzle,” as Spezza put it, also appealed to him. He’s going from being the captain and focal point of the Senators, to the Stars’ second-line center, which in some respects takes some of the pressure off of him.

At the same time, the Stars didn’t give up a second round pick, Alex Chiasson, Nicholas Paul, Alexander Guptill, and Ludwig Karlsson to make Spezza comfortable. The Stars will be relying heavily on him to provide them with a second great scoring line.

On top of that, the value of his next contract could be largely determined by what he does in 2014-15. Spezza is closing out his seven-year, $49 million deal. Stars GM Jim Nill is “pretty confident” that he can re-sign him, but if Spezza doesn’t end up meshing well with the Stars, then Nill might reevaluate his plans.

So while Spezza has traveled roughly 1,420 miles from Ottawa to Dallas, he hasn’t escaped the expectations thrust upon him.

PHT Morning Skate: It’s not like they robbed a bank

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Calgary Flames head coach Bob Hartley seems pretty chill about healthy-scratching Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau and Lance Bouma. That goes for Monahan and Gaudreau in particular, noting that they’re “great kids.”

Besides … it’s not like they robbed a bank. (NHL.com)

Uh oh, did Nazem Kadri make the throat-slashing gesture to Mark Giordano? See for yourself in the video above. (Puck Daddy)

What should the New York Islanders do with unrestricted free agent Kyle Okposo, who’s enjoying a productive contract year? (The Hockey News)

What a playoff berth would mean to the Florida Panthers. (Sportsnet)

Checking in with various teams as the trade deadline looms. (NHL Numbers)

On the Canucks using those Pavel Bure-era jerseys. (Greatest Hockey Legends)

Despite tough fight, Stars hand Wild their sixth straight loss

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The Minnesota Wild put together the kind of effort that would beat a lot of NHL teams on Tuesday. Unfortunately for that beleaguered group, it wasn’t enough to edge the Dallas Stars.

Despite generating 40 shots on goal and generating 1-0 and 2-1 leads, the Wild lost to the Stars 4-3 in overtime. With that, they’ve lost six straight games.

(The view doesn’t get much prettier if you pull away a little further, either, as Minnesota’s only won once in the last month, going 1-9-2 in their last 12.)

Ultimately, the Stars’ big guns were too powerful. Tyler Seguin generated two assists and so did Jamie Benn, who set up John Klingberg‘s overtime game-winning goal.

Again, the effort sure seemed to be there for the Wild, even if they’re far beyond the point of accepting moral victories.

As frustrating as this must be, Minnesota’s not that far from a playoff spot. Still, it has to sting to see “Close, but not good enough” as a prevailing theme as of late.

Royal beating: Lucic, Kings crush Bruins 9-2

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The Boston Bruins welcomed Milan Lucic back on Tuesday. Maybe they shouldn’t have extended such a warm welcome to the Los Angeles Kings overall, however.

You won’t see many games as lopsided as this one, at least in 2015-16, as the Kings walloped the Bruins by a humbling score of 9-2.

Lucic wasn’t just there, either, as he scored a goal and an assist in his quite triumphant return to Boston.

Tuukka Rask had a short night in Boston’s net, yet it wasn’t as if Jonas Gustavsson enjoyed his time. It was a pretty sound beating by all accounts.

This dominant win is a heck of a way for the Kings to begin an imposing seven-game road trip, which continues against the New York Islanders on Thursday. The Bruins probably want to burn the tape on this one themselves, as they’re about to head on a six-game road trip.

Video: Evander Kane believes he won his fights vs. Alex Petrovic

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The Florida Panthers are beating up the Buffalo Sabres where it counts – on the scoreboard – but Evander Kane was happy to highlight his perceived victories in a couple bouts.

Buffalo’s power forward fought Alex Petrovic twice on Tuesday, and Kane wasn’t shy about holding up a “2-0.”

You can watch the second fight above, and the first one below, via Hockey Fights by way of MSG:

This GIF might just say it all, really:

Update: Apparently they fought again moments after this post went up.

Probably safe to call it a rivalry between the two, right?

The Panthers ultimately won 7-4.