After allowing the fourth-most goals in the league last year, the Dallas Stars made a bunch of offseason moves designed to keep pucks out of their net.
But if the preseason has been any indication, they’re not exactly working.
“It was disappointing,” head coach Lindy Ruff said after a 4-1 exhibition loss to St. Louis on Tuesday, per the Dallas Morning-News. “We didn’t compete hard enough. I thought some guys did, but they won the puck battles, we threw some pucks away and I thought our power play played pond hockey. That was frustrating.”
(If that pond hockey line sounds familiar, it should.)
Dallas has allowed 20 goals through five preseason games. You can take those numbers with a grain of salt — they’re called exhibition games for a reason — but it still has to be an alarming trend for Ruff and GM Jim Nill, who spent a lot of money this summer on defensive reinforcements (like Johnny Oduya for $7.5 million) and goaltending depth (Antti Niemi, $13.5M).
Also alarming? The fact the same issues keep creeping up.
Niemi allowed four goals on 28 shots against the Blues, finishing with an .857 save percentage. That’s been a problem in Dallas, especially last year when the Stars finished with the NHL’s second-worst save percentage (only Edmonton’s was lower.)
Then there’s the pond hockey thing, which is clearly going to be the knock on Dallas until it shows otherwise.
Viktor Stalberg‘s stock was pretty low this summer after Nashville bought him out of the final two years of his four-year, $12 million contract.
Now, it’s pretty high.
“As a coach sometimes, and as an organization, you catch players at the right time,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault told the New York Post. “And him, with what happened last year in Nashville, I’m catching him at a time where if he’s not hungry and he doesn’t play well, he’s not going to be very long in this league, so I think he knows that. He understands that and he’s come here to play.”
Vigneault said Stalberg’s been one of the Rangers’ most impressive players at this year’s camp, showing the form that saw him score a career-high 22 goals with Chicago during the 2011-12 campaign.
That production played a role in scoring a fairly lucrative deal from Nashville. Stalberg’s time in the Music City, though, was largely a disappointment — he scored just 10 goals in 95 games over two seasons, missing a boatload of time last year to injury.
Following his buyout, Stalberg signed a one-year, $1.1 million deal with the Rangers. It didn’t take long for his best attribute — skating — to mesh with Vigneault’s system; last game out, he got a look on a strong skating line next to Kevin Hayes and Jesper Fast.
Stalberg could eventually replace some of the speed lost when New York traded Carl Hagelin to Anaheim at the draft.
Looks like Thomas Chabot’s time at Ottawa’s training camp will end on a good note.
Chabot, who will head back to his Quebec League junior team shortly, signed his three-year, entry-level deal with the Sens on Wednesday, the club announced.
The 18-year-old defenseman inked his contract following a pretty solid preseason, in which he managed to score some time on a pairing with team captain Erik Karlsson.
Chabot, the 18th overall pick in this year’s draft, projects to be good offensive defenseman. He scored 41 points in 66 games with the Saint John Sea Dogs last year and, this summer, was added to Team Canada’s summer showcase for the upcoming World Juniors.