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The Buzzer: Schenn fights, scores twice; Hoffman hits 100

Players of the Night:

Brayden Schenn, St. Louis Blues: Another player who scored twice on Thursday night. Schenn set the tone early, fighting Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog three seconds after puck drop in the first period. He backed that up with his 22nd and 23rd goals of the season.

Sean Monahan, Calgary Flames: Boring Sean Monahan has 27 goals on the season after scoring a brace in the Flames 3-2 win against the New Jersey Devils.

P.K. Subban, Nashville Predators: Subban also score two goals, including the game-tying goal late in the third period to force overtime against the Ottawa Senators. Subban’s second goal was his 15th of the season, matching a career-high.

Nick Cousins, Arizona Coyotes: OK, last one. Cousins scored twice, and his second with 19 seconds left in the third period forced overtime, where Clayton Keller fired home the winner to give the desert dogs a 4-3 come-from-behind win.

Other two-goal scorers: Tyler Seguin, Travis Konecny and Joe Pavelski.

Highlights of the Night:

Mike Hoffman scored his 100th NHL goal in style:

Tic-tac-goal:

Kyle Turris got a nice welcome back to Ottawa:

Factoids of the Night:

A reminder of how good John Klingberg has been:

Boeser doing more things:

MISC:

Scores:

Flames 3, Devils 2

Flyers 5, Canadiens 3

Senators 4, Predators 3 (OT)

Lightning 5, Canucks 2

Blues 6, Avalanche 1

Coyotes 4, Wild 3 (OT)

Stars 4, Blackhawks 2

Golden Knights 5, Sharks 3


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Stars’ John Klingberg benefiting from improved all-around game

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TAMPA — John Klingberg knows his name is in the mix for the Norris Trophy and he takes pride in that observers are noting how improved his all-around game has become since breaking into the NHL during the 2014-15 season.

It’s easy to see the offensive side of the 25-year-old Gothenburg, Sweden native. He’s hit double digits in goals in each of his first four NHL seasons and has six through 50 games this season with the Dallas Stars. Since his rookie season, Klingberg is third in the league among defenseman with 195 points and is fifth averaging 0.92 points per game.

What did Klingberg do differently over the summer to warrant such high praise? Not much, really. He trained in a similar fashion with his brother, Carl, who plays in Switzerland, Victor Svedberg of the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs and Christian Folin of the Los Angeles Kings. It’s been more of a mental thing, he says.

“I just feel the whole team and myself have been really mentally prepared [since] summer to come into the season and really change things with how we want to be prepared as a team and how we want to play hockey,” Klingberg said during NHL All-Star Media Day. “From last year, it’s a lot of redemption with the disappointing season that we had and just coming in mentally prepared for this season.”

That mental prep has helped the Stars to the current wild spot they reside through 50 games. During the few days away from meaningful hockey games, Klingberg spent some time picking the brain of fellow Central Division All-Star Alex Pietrangelo, a fellow defenseman whose name has also been bandied about in the midseason Norris discussion. The Stars blue liner said he wanted to find out how Ken Hitchcock helped his game while coaching the Blues.

Pietrangelo evolved into a top defenseman and Klingberg’s entering that stratosphere. As his offensive game remains one of the best in the league among defenseman, he can sense his all-around game is catching up.

“I feel like my defensive game has evolved, but I feel right now the thing that has changed is that I’m making really good plays with the puck all the time,” he said. “I don’t get turnovers much and I don’t have to waste as much energy going back chasing the puck and playing defensively. I feel like I’ve been pretty good defensive player before that, I’m just not playing as much defense as I’ve done before.”

Klingberg’s offensive talents can be traced back to his youth when he started playing as a forward. At 15, he switched to defense, but the transition to the back end didn’t see the evaportation of those forward skills, which still help him today.

“You have the chance to make more skill plays when you’re playing forward and that’s something I brought to me when I played ‘D’ as well,” he said. “I didn’t want to change tactics too much. I didn’t think about it too much when I changed to ‘D’. But obviously that and playing pond hockey and playing street hockey in summers, that’s where you get all the skills.”

Klingberg was inspired as a young defenseman by Erik Karlsson. As both played in the Frolunda system, the Stars blue liner got to see the future Ottawa Senators captain on a regular basis, soaking in every aspect of his game. Karlsson would end up going in the first round in the 2008 draft, well on his way to an impactful professional career. Klingberg went in the fifth round two years later, but didn’t think the NHL was a realistic possibility.

“No, not at all. That was always the dream, but I knew there was always a lot of hard work ahead,” he said. “I feel like this is the first year I actually started to figure out how to play an all-around [game] and saving energy for playing that [many] minutes as well. That’s going to be a lot of credit to Hitchcock and how he changed my game — not a lot, just a little bit.

“It takes time to be a good defenseman in this league and I feel like I’m taking strides this year and I can only get better.”

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

NHL All-Star Media Day notebook: Karlsson, Tavares on futures; Klingberg’s Karlsson connection

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TAMPA — After dropping one of the season’s most memorable quotes in November, Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators is now trying to worry about the present day not jump ahead to the summer of 2019 when he could be an unrestricted free agent.

His quote of “When I go to market, I’m going to get what I’m worth, and it’s going to be no less, no matter where I’m going,” raised many eyebrows around and the league and had various fanbases creating hypothetical trade scenarios should the Senators decide they can’t afford to keep him.

During NHL All-Star Media Day on Saturday, the Senators captain said he’ll wait until this coming summer before beginning to think about his future.

“Whenever I have to make a decision on what I need to do with my future and when we have to make those discussions, we will,” Karlsson said. “As of right now, it’s not something that I’m focusing on or worrying about. I’m just worrying about trying to get us out of the slump were in and trying to find a solution to the problems we do have.

“Whenever the summer comes around, I think the discussions are going to heat up a little bit more, and that’s when I’ll probably sit back and reflect on the things I want in my career. I’m sure Ottawa’s going to give me their perspective of things as well, and then were going to move on from there.”

Tavares talks future

In other superstar contract news, John Tavares reiterated his stance that he would like to stay with the New York Islanders. The 27-year-old forward is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent this summer and clarity around the team’s future with a new arena project by Belmont Park had many believing that an extension was imminent. That hasn’t been the case just yet.

“I’ve always stated that I’ve really enjoyed being there,” Tavares said. “I haven’t thought about anything but mostly focusing on this season and taking my time and being patient. When the time is right, I’ll make my decision. Anything that we’ve talked about I prefer to keep it internally between me and the organization. Talks are always open and they’ve been great so far. I’m not going to get into specific details.

“The way I look at is anything that affects my daily life, whether it’s at the rink or not at the rink, will go into my decision. Obviously you want to play for a team that’s doing everything it can to win, and the Islanders are certainly doing that. You can see a lot of the potential and the young talent we have, as well as guys who’ve been there for a while, like Josh [Bailey], Anders [Lee], Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk, the veteran guys we have. We’ve got a solid foundation there.”

Bloomberg reported on Friday that Tavares and his Islanders teammates may be returning to their old home for 12 games next season at Nassau Coliseum as the Belmont Park project is built with an eye to open in time for the the 2020-21 or 2021-22 NHL season.

Why Mike Smith landed in Calgary

The Calgary Flames wanted to go in a different direction after a year with Brian Elliott and Chad Johnson didn’t work out. At the same time, Mike Smith was looking for a chance to move away from Arizona after six seasons and have a chance to win.

So just before NHL teams had to submit their expansion draft protected lists, the Coyotes sent Smith to the Flames for a package that included defensive prospect Brandon Hickey.

After spending time in Dallas and Tampa splitting goaltending duties or acting as backup, Smith became a full-fledged No. 1 with the Coyotes. His very first year was a successful one as he helped the team to the Western Conference Final. But after that it was downhill and the team failed to reach the postseason as issues around the club continued. He was ready to move on.

“Great people that I played with and teammates and training staff and all that. My three were born there so,” Smith said. “My time in Arizona was great for my career, but I think I was at the point, too, where I was really wanting a chance to be on a good team, a team that’s up and coming but has the core group to win now, and I think that was an important decision. Having Calgary on my list, there was a good chance that I’d end up there and it’s been a good transition so far.”

It wasn’t a tough decision for Smith to decide to waive his no-trade clause. The options were limited but the Flames are further along than the Coyotes and it was a situation he wanted to be a part of.

“There’s only so many spots for a goalie, right? So you can narrow that down pretty well on who needs goalies, who has one,” he said. “It makes your list pretty self-explanatory to say the least. There wasn’t too much thought process that went into it. I knew the teams that kind of were in need of a goalie and Calgary was one of them. Obviously, I’m thrilled to be a Flame.”

John Klingberg’s Karlsson connection

Coming up through the Frolunda system in Gothenburg, Sweden, Klingberg was able to watch a lot of a very young Erik Karlsson. The Senators captain was playing junior hockey a few years ahead of the Dallas Stars defenseman. Karlsson was a must-watch player and someone Klingberg looked up as a fellow blue liner.

“That was great for me because at that time I just switched to D and he was that offensive player in juniors that everyone wanted to be like,” Klingberg said. “I had the privilege to see him play a lot of junior hockey in Frolunda where I grew up. That was great for me.”

Get the goalies involved

The Skills Competition showcases the top talents of the league’s best players, but for goalies, their job is basically to be a prop and stop shots. Yeah, there’s been those few times — goalie race, Four Line Challenge — where they’ve actually been the focus of a specific event. But they’re just as eager to get involved.

“I wouldn’t mind shooting at the targets, seeing how my hands are,” said Winnipeg Jets netminder Connor Hellebuyck. “It would be fun to be a little more involved, but we’re goalies. Our skills get in the way of things.”

Mike Smith, who provided one of the highlights from last year’s Skills Competition for sinking a full-length shot through a small hole during the Four Line Challenge, is keen on the idea, but a little hesitant.

“I wouldn’t want to skate,” he said. “I would want to stand still. I think Accuracy would be the one.”

When I asked him if he’d want something like the Four Line Challenge brought back, he simply said, “I couldn’t do that again.”

The Tampa Bay Lightning, who are celebrating their 25th season, and the city of Tampa will host the 2018 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend. The League’s midseason showcase will take place at AMALIE Arena and will include the 2018 GEICO NHL All-Star Skills Competition on Saturday, Jan. 27 (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS) and 2018 Honda NHL All-Star Game on Sunday, Jan. 28 (3:30 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS).

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Stars’ Klingberg ‘was a little bit surprised’ with seven-year deal

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Following a solid rookie campaign, which saw him finish fifth in Calder Trophy voting, the Dallas Stars rewarded defenseman John Klingberg with a new seven-year, $29.75 million contract.

It was a deal that surprised some, including Klingberg himself.

“I was a little bit surprised. I thought maybe a two-year or three-year deal, somewhere there,” Klingberg told the Stars’ website. “I talked to my agent, and he said Jim wanted to make a long-term deal, and I was really surprised. I was happy because I knew they were happy with how I played and wanted to sign me for a long time. It’s exciting when you know they trust you, and they think you can be a good player.”

The 23-year-old didn’t make the Stars’ opening night roster last season as he was recovering from hip surgery. However, after scoring four goals and eight assists in 10 AHL games with the Texas Stars, he was recalled by Dallas in November.

Klingberg finished with 11 goals in 65 games and led all Stars’ blue liners with 40 points.

His play had Stars’ GM Jim Nill comparing Klingberg to two-time Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson.

“We think we’ve got a chance of having the next Karlsson,” Nill said in July. “We think (Klingberg’s) heading (in) that direction, and if he continues to improve, I think he will be that type of player.”

Klingberg, who represented Sweden at the world championship in the Czech Republic, ranked third among rookie defensemen in average ice time at 21:50 per game last season and was named to the NHL’s All-Rookie Team.

“I learned a lot, it was a lot of good experience last year,” Klingberg said. “With the good start I had and then the little bounce back and then to come back again, I think I played pretty good the whole year. I can’t put a finger on it, but I learned a lot the last year. It was a good year, and I am excited to start up again this year.”

Related: Dallas has ‘deepest bench of defense prospects in the league,’ says owner

Dallas Stars ’15-16 Outlook

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If there’s one safe bet with the Dallas Stars, it’s that they’ll be one of the most exciting teams in the NHL next season.

That being said, “entertaining” and “successful” don’t always go together in professional hockey.

More than a few times today, PHT’s discussed a few curveballs that might befuddle this team. Even so, this team stands to be electric and boasts one of the highest ceilings of any team in the NHL.

As risky as spending $10.4 million on good (but maybe not elite) goalies might be, there’s a perfectly reasonable possibility that Dallas will find the right formula to make it all work. That’s on head coach Lindy Ruff, as mentioned earlier on Saturday.

Let’s remember though that sports are, ostensibly, about entertainment; it would be a borderline travesty if the Dallas market doesn’t light up the box office for this time.

Just ponder their offensive attack for a minute.

Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn stand as one of the dynamic duos of the NHL. Jason Spezza has his flaws, yet he’s also often a brilliant playmaker. Patrick Sharp boasts a handsome two-way game and 2015-16 could be much kinder to Valeri Nichushkin and Ales Hemsky.

John Klingberg’s potential is almost as impressive as his braids were embarrassing.

We’ll have to wait and see if the Stars can justify all the hype with wins and a deep playoff run. Either way, they’re just about guaranteed to be appointment TV for anyone with even a remote interest in the sport.

That’s a victory in itself.