NHL on NBCSN: Ducks aim to play postseason-style hockey against Stars

NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign tonight with a doubleheader. The second of the two contests will feature the Anaheim Ducks hosting the Dallas Stars, with the puck scheduled to drop at 10:30 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

The Stars have been a very good team lately and had they found a way to put it all together earlier in the season, they probably would have secured a postseason spot. The fact that they’re instead mathematically eliminated has caught some off guard, including Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano.

“Dallas – it’s pretty surprising they’re not in the playoffs because they’re so good,” Cogliano told the Orange County Register.

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For a while now Anaheim has been essentially — and now officially — locked into the first seed in the Pacific Division. Whether or not they finish with the top seed overall in the conference remains to be seen, but regardless they’re in a very comfortable position. That can be dangerous though. Teams that have to claw their way into the playoffs won’t have any trouble adjusting to the postseason atmosphere because they’ve been playing in it already. Meanwhile, Anaheim has to fight to stay sharp.

“You want to win the games, but I think you just got to play the game the right way and how you’re going to be playing once playoffs starts,” Cogliano said. “You just can’t turn it on. Those teams have been turned on for the last month or so.”

In that regard playing against Dallas should be a good test for the Ducks, because the Stars are a good team regardless of what their position in the standings might suggest. Although Dallas is also a squad with little left to play for, the Stars should still put forward a strong effort with an eye towards 2015-16.

“When you don’t make the playoffs playing in these games are tough,” Stars forward Tyler Seguin said, per the Dallas Morning News. “It’s frustrating. You try not to create bad habits. We have a mini training camp here, so we’ll work on our systematic stuff and try to get better.”

All of Dallas’ core players are under contract for the 2015-16 campaign, so the Stars will have another chance to show that this team can do great things. In the meantime, they have an opportunity to make a statement against one of the best squads in the league.

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    Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

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    VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

    Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

    Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

    Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

    Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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    Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

    The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

    Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

    After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

    Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

    Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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    MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

    But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

    “I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

    Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

    “I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

    Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

    Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

    Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

    All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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    SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

    Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

    The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

    Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

    Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.