Journeyman Potulny signs with Finnish squad


The Lahti Pelicans of Finland’s top league announced that they have signed Ryan Potulny.

The 30-year-old forward is a product of the University of Minnesota and was a finalist for the 2005-06 Hobey Baker Memorial Award. He recorded 38 goals and 63 points in 41 NCAA contests that season while playing on a team that also featured Phil Kessel, Alex Goligoski, and Blake Wheeler.

The Philadelphia Flyers took him with the 87th overall pick in 2003. He has 22 goals and 49 points in 126 NHL contests with the Flyers, Edmonton Oilers, Chicago Blackhawks, and Edmonton Oilers.

At his height, he scored 15 goals and 32 points in 64 games with Edmonton in 2009-10.

He spent the 2014-15 campaign with the AHL Hartford Wolf Pack, scoring two goals and five points in 25 games.

Eakin scores twice as Stars double up the Blackhawks

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For the first time in four tries this season the Dallas Stars defeated the Chicago Blackhawks

Cody Eakin scored twice and Kari Lehtonen made 38 saves as the Stars doubled up the Blackhawks 6-3 Sunday night.

With the loss, Chicago has dropped back-to-back games for the first time since Nov. 1 and Nov.2.

The win moves Dallas to within two points of Calgary for the second Wild Card spot in the Western Conference.

Tyler Seguin moved into a tie for the league-lead with his 28th of the season while Vernon Fiddler and Erik Cole had the other goals for Dallas.

Shawn Horcoff added an empty netter.

Stars’ captain Jamie Benn had three assists. John Klingberg and Alex Goligoski each had two assists in the win.

Brandon Saad scored twice for the Blackhawks, including a spin-o-rama move to tie the game 3-3 in the second.

Patrick Kane had the other Blackhawks goal.

Corey Crawford made 28 saves in the loss.

Related: Blackhawks’ Carcillo waives right to an in-person hearing

Despite California success, Texas outdoor game ‘probably a ways off’


The NHL proved that it could conduct an outdoor game in a southern market during the 2014 Stadium Series when the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings played at Dodger Stadium. So should we expect to someday see an outdoor contest hosted by the Dallas Stars?

Perhaps, but Stars president Jim Lites warned that it was “probably a ways off.”

“It’s not something that has been talked about much lately, so it’s sort of up in the air,” Lites told the Dallas Morning News. “I would prefer if we were a visitor first and had a chance to go through the experience before we tried to host one, but you sort of just react to what the league tells you.”

Lites believes that if Dallas is to host an outdoor game, it would probably have to be as an extension of the Stadium Series rather than the Winter Classic. That’s in part due to the lack of availability in January at the Dallas Cowboys home, AT&T Stadium. However, he thinks a game in February would be doable.

If the Stars were to be the guests in an outdoor game, one possible opponent would be the Minnesota Wild, given the Stars roots as the Minnesota North Stars.

Although it’s impossible to predict what the rosters would be like for a theoretical game that might take place at some unspecified point in the future, Dallas would certainly bring star power to the event with Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, and Jason Spezza leading the charge. All three of them are signed through at least the 2016-17 campaign. It would also be a homecoming for Alex Goligoski, who grew up in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.

He played in the 2011 Winter Classic between Pittsburgh and Washington.

“Yeah, you could definitely say I would be on board with it,” said Goligoski. “It rained in the one I played in, so playing in one in Minnesota with the snow and cold, that would be great. That’s what I grew up with.”

Stars GM isn’t surprised by early season struggles

The Dallas Stars entered the 2014-15 campaign with some serious question marks, but it’s still fair to say that expectations were high for them after adding Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky over the summer. So far the Stars have an underwhelming 6-6-4 record though, thanks in large part due to a seven-game losing streak.

That start might have surprised some, but Stars GM Jim Nill isn’t one of them.

“No, I was worried about it coming into the season,” Nill told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “When you start getting better you have to remember how you got there. It’s a little bit subconscious because sometimes you take more chances than you should. Not really surprised where we are – it comes with expectations.”

Nill believes that the team has lost its identity, which is something Stars coach Lindy Ruff and him were concerned about going into the season. He also noted that he’s happy with his bottom-six forwards, but the top-six have to do more. Tyler Seguin has excelled with 10 goals and 22 points in 16 games, but Jamie Benn has just two assists in his last seven games and Hemsky has one point in 15 contests.

The bigger concern going into this season though was the team’s defense.

“Trevor Daley and Alex Goligoski have been outstanding,” Nill said. “The rest of the guys are really young and inexperienced. You know there are going to be highs and lows with that. To be fair to them, it’s the way we play – you can leave them hung out to dry.

“It’s overall team defense. To be successful, everybody has to buy into it. You have to play good defense. That doesn’t mean you take away from your offense, but it means you don’t turn it over at the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Of course the Stars’ blueline recently got younger when they traded Sergei Gonchar to Montreal in exchange for forward Travis Moen.

The Stars have some catching up to do, but at least there’s still plenty of time left to do it.

Dallas getting greener on D, but Ruff says issues are on him

At some point this season, Dallas’ blueline should slip Lindy Ruff a thank-you note.

The beleaguered unit — which, according to this morning’s skate, will see 23-year-old Finnish rookie Jyrki Jokipakka make his NHL debut tonight against the Devils — currently sits 22nd in the NHL in goals allowed per game (3.17), yet Ruff continues to insist the defense’s issues are on him…not the players comprising it.

From the Dallas Morning-News:

With the team giving up the 25th most shots per game in the NHL at 34.3, it’s Ruff stepping up and taking responsibility.

“That’s on me,” Ruff said after his team blew a two-goal lead Saturday in a 6-5 OT loss to Philadelphia. “I have to find a way to fix that.”

After a 6-3 win over Vancouver, in which the Stars led 5-0, Ruff said, “I’m going to focus on the good and try to clean up the bad parts. That’s my job.”

And, preparing for Friday’s game against the Devils, he said, “These are teaching experiences, and we need to take advantage of that.”

Ruff is probably trying to shield his blueline, and rightfully so. Brenden Dillon missed all of the preseason and is still trying to get up to speed. Sergei Gonchar opened the year on IR and hasn’t played yet, while promising Swedish rearguard Patrik Nemeth was lost for the season to an arm laceration.

As a result, Dallas has been left with a defense that’s light on big-league experience. Tonight’s group will be led by two veteran presences in Trevor Daley and Alex Goligoski, but it gets thin from there; the Stars’ second pairing of Dillon and Jordie Benn have less than 250 games of combined NHL experience while the third unit of Jokipakka and Jamie Oleksiak is as raw as it gets (Jokipakka is, as mentioned, making his NHL debut; Oleksiak will play the 26th game of his career tonight.)

Ruff knows part of his job is to teach the youngsters, and he had some success with that last season when Dallas “figured it out” halfway through the season, and rallied to capture a playoff berth.

Thing is, Ruff wants the learning process to be sped up this year.

“I don’t want to be waiting half a season, I can tell you that right now,” Ruff said. “We’ve got work to do.”