Paquette, Connolly lift Lightning over Stars 5-1

September, 30, 2014
Sep 30

DALLAS -- Cedric Paquette and Brett Connolly each scored a goal and assisted on another as the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Dallas Stars 5-1 on Tuesday night.

The Lightning scored 37 seconds into the game, when Richard Panik put a rebound past Dallas goalie Anders Lindback. Jonathan Marchessault and Paquette assisted.

Connolly assisted on Paquette's goal in the third period and then scored one himself 4 1/2 minutes later.

Lightning goalie Ben Bishop made 21 saves. Lindback stopped 28 shots but gave up five goals.

Tampa Bay's special teams provided two goals in the second period. J.T. Brown stole the puck on a short-handed goal, and Nikita Kucherov scored on the power play.

Jamie Benn scored for the Stars on a rebound at 14:50 of the second.

Dallas completed its preseason schedule with a 4-2 record. Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen, who left Monday's game with a concussion, is expected to play in the season opener Oct. 9.

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New team, new city, new country, new school, new house, but luckily for Jason Spezza, at least one same linemate who ended the campaign with him in Ottawa last season.

Don't underestimate the importance of having Ales Hemsky on his right side as Spezza adjusts to playing for an NHL team other than the Ottawa Senators for the first time in his career.

"That's probably been the biggest thing so far," Spezza told on Tuesday from Dallas. "When you make such a big change, everything is new, except for the fact I'm playing with Hemmer still. It's really been a blessing to have a guy that I feel familiar with."

Spezza and Hemsky hit up an instant chemistry late last season after the Senators got the Czech winger in a trade from Edmonton. Ironically, it's because of that chemistry that Sens GM Bryan Murray was hoping to bring Hemsky back to play with Spezza. That was before learning that Spezza wanted out.
[+] EnlargeJason Spezza
Glenn James/NHLI/Getty ImagesJason Spezza is looking forward to suiting up for the high-flying Stars.

Hemsky instead followed Spezza to Dallas, giving the Stars a tantalizing one-two punch on their top two lines with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin on the top unit with sophomore Valeri Nichushkin. Erik Cole will likely begin the season complementing Spezza and Hemsky.

Questions remain as far as how this team will defend. But scoring goals? That should not be a problem.

"I think we can be a dynamic offensive team," Spezza said. "The fit is really good for me that way. [Head coach] Lindy [Ruff] wants us to play up-tempo, pressuring the puck, stuff that I'm comfortable doing. I think we're a team that can give other teams headaches nightly if we can take care of the puck in our end. Once we get on the attack, there aren't many teams that might be better than us that way."

For Spezza, it all lines up beautifully. After years of always drawing the toughest matchup from the other team as far as the top defense pair or the top checking line, he'll at least share that chore with Benn-Seguin, if not benefit most nights as other teams pick their poison and likely match up their best with Benn-Seguin.

Plus, the style of play Ruff wants to use suits Spezza just nicely.

"I really like the way Lindy wants us to play," Spezza said. "I think it really suits my game. The way he coaches is something that fits my game naturally. It's a nice starting point for sure."

According to a Western Conference scout, it could turn out to be a good fit, given the strengths of the teams out west.

"He is a big-body center, which helps in the Western Conference against the Getzlafs, Kopitars, Thorntons," the scout wrote in an email to "He gives them a veteran presence for a young group, allows Ruff the ability to move Seguin's line around, [to] pack more offensive punch, which takes some pressure off Seguin ... . [He] will help balance their lineup and put guys into the right fits [and] is familiar with few players in that lineup, which helps. [He] has been a strong faceoff guy in Ottawa. [The] Stars' power play was just middle of the pack, so he can help that push upward in that category. He might just flourish with less pressure and [on a] non-Canadian team where the focus has been on him since day 1."

All in all, it should mean an increase in offensive productivity from Spezza, who tallied 66 points (23-43) in 75 games last season. Take the over this season on that point total.

And it just so happens he's in a contract year.

He would easily be the headliner next July 1 on what is otherwise a rather thin UFA crop when it comes to high-end talent, but whether or not he actually gets there, well, that remains to be seen.

The Stars intend on having Spezza hang around longer than one season.

"They've expressed that they want to talk [extension]," Spezza said. "And we have all intentions of talking. But it's just I want to get comfortable first, and get started. It's really not a big concern of mine right now. I'm not naive, I know as the season goes on it'll become more of a talking point. But at this point, I'm just worried about playing and getting comfortable. If we start winning games, it's going to be a good fit for both sides. It's just a matter of getting comfortable first. There's no point in rushing into anything."

Getting comfortable means off-ice, too. He's got kids ages 4, 2 and 4 months old. They moved into their house in Dallas in late August to begin their new life away from Canada's capital.

"I say it's been a pretty smooth transition, although it's my wife that's done most of the work," Spezza, 31, said with a chuckle. "We're settled. The kids are in school. Everyone is getting comfortable."

After years in the spotlight in hockey-crazed Ottawa, it's clear that Spezza appreciates the quiet life he's entering.

"It's been nice to come to the rink and work and nobody knows me here," he said. "It's been nice that way. We've enjoyed it."

Don't get him wrong -- he would never take back his years in Ottawa. But the time was right for a move.

"Ottawa is a great place to play, I really enjoyed playing in Canada and the scrutiny that came with it," Spezza said. "But you almost don't realize how much you go through day to day until you get away from it. You realize how much more laid-back it can be in another setting. I wouldn't change it, but I'm welcoming the change right now."

And so are the

Seguin's hat trick rallies Stars past Panthers 5-4

September, 29, 2014
Sep 29

DALLAS -- Tyler Seguin scored three goals and the Dallas Stars rallied to beat the Florida Panthers 5-4 on Monday night.

Seguin's first two goals both tied the game after Florida built leads of 3-0 and 4-3. His two third-period scores against Roberto Luongo were on power plays.

Seguin also assisted on Valeri Nichushkin's score that started the Stars' three-goal surge in the second.

Goals by Rocco Grimaldi, Scottie Upshall and Quinton Howden against Kari Lehtonen built Florida's 3-0 lead in the first 23 minutes.

Lehtonen finished with 12 saves while playing 41 minutes, 49 seconds. After that, Anders Lindback stopped eight shots and allowed Colby Robak's goal that put the Panthers ahead 4-3.

Robak was in the penalty box when Seguin scored the game-winner.

Jason Spezza had three assists and Ales Hemsky added two for Dallas.

The Panthers pulled Luongo in the final minute. He made 23 saves.

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Dallas Stars sign Cody Eakin

September, 29, 2014
Sep 29

The Dallas Stars have signed restricted free agent forward Cody Eakin to a two-year deal, the club announced Monday.

A source told the deal is worth $3.8 million in total, paying $1.5 million this season and $2.3 million next season.

Eakin, 22, had 16 goals and 19 assists last season in 81 games.

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Meech helps Stars beat Blues 4-2

September, 27, 2014
Sep 27

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Derek Meech scored the deciding goal in the second period in the Dallas Stars' 4-2 exhibition victory over the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night.

Branden Troock, Travis Morin and Kevin Connaulton also scored for Dallas (3-1-0).

Robby Fabbri and Paul Stastny scored for St. Louis (0-3-1).

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Stralman helps Lightning beat Stars 6-3

September, 26, 2014
Sep 26

TAMPA, Fla. -- Defenseman Anton Stralman scored two goals to help the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Dallas Stars 6-3 on Friday night in an exhibition game.

Cody Kunyk, Nikita Kucherov, Matt Corrente and Ryan Callahan also scored for the Lightning (2-1-0).

Vezina Trophy finalist Ben Bishop stopped 11 of 13 shots in his first appearance for Tampa Bay since injuring an elbow in the final week of last season. Evgeni Nabokov replaced him midway through the game and finished with eight saves on nine shots.

Nicolas Blanchard, Brendan Ranford and Jason Spezza scored for Dallas (2-1-0).

Kari Lehtonen made 13 saves in two periods for the Stars. Jussi Rynnas stopped seven of eight shots in the third.

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NHL stars reveal their most-hated workouts to stay in shape.

Ales Hemsky lifts Stars past Panthers in shootout

September, 24, 2014
Sep 24

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Ales Hemsky scored the only goal in a shootout in the Dallas Stars' 4-3 exhibition victory over the Florida Panthers on Wednesday night.

Hemsky beat Michael Houser with a deke to the backhand in the top half of the fourth round. Jussi Rynnas stopped all four Florida shooters in the tiebreaker, securing the victory with a save against Dave Bolland.

Dallas' Alex Goligoski tied it at 3 midway through the third period, and Patrick Eaves and Kevin Connauton also scored for the Stars. Dallas opened the preseason Monday night with a 4-3 victory over St. Louis.

Shane O'Brien, Bolland and Brandon Pirri scored for the Panthers in their first game under new head coach Gerard Gallant.

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The NHL's Top 25 under age 25

September, 24, 2014
Sep 24

Following Neil Greenberg's departure, I have been tasked with Insider's annual top 25 under 25 rankings. My methods are not entirely the same as Neil's, so an explanation of my process is included, and a "previous ranking" line for each player didn't seem appropriate.

While statistics are a significant part of any player evaluation process, this is an overall talent evaluation. One major change from previous versions is that skills-based analysis went into a large part of building this list. This ranking does not look at contract status (which would make the youngest players more valuable), and is done in a world where a team keeps a player through his retirement with the current and future value in mind. Forwards of equivalent talent to defensemen are given the edge, as they have a bigger impact on even-strength team performance.

Using a strict cutoff of 25 players, some very good young players had to be omitted. Calgary's T.J. Brodie, Carolina's Jeff Skinner, Columbus' Ryan Murray, Edmonton's Nail Yakupov, San Jose's Tomas Hertl, Washington's John Carlson and Winnipeg's Evander Kane were among the many big names who were tough to cut. A lot of established quality NHLers were cut based on my balancing of potential versus established play -- another significant change from Greenberg's versions of these rankings.

We use the NHL's cutoff for draft prospects to determine the cutoff date for purposes of this ranking, which is Sept. 15. Thus, Alex Killorn -- who turned 25 on Sept. 14 -- is ineligible. All ages as mentioned in this article are current as of Sept. 15. Each player is listed with his age and basic stats, as well as average ice time, relative Corsi and where he ranks on his team in quality of competition.

Here are the top 25 players in the NHL under the age of 25:

Five guys who can make a difference

September, 24, 2014
Sep 24

1. Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning -- The loss of Steven Stamkos could've been a death knell for the Tampa Bay Lightning, but the plucky squad persevered even after their superstar center went down with a broken tibia in November. Another costly blow was dealt to the Bolts on the cusp of the postseason when starting goaltender Ben Bishop was sidelined with an injury and didn't play in the first round of the playoffs. Now, both are back and healthy with training camps underway and it's fair to assume that Stamkos is keen for making up on lost time. The former No. 1 pick was cruising along at an impressive clip before he went down -- 14 goals and 23 points in a 17-game span -- and has to be a top candidate for the Rocket Richard trophy, assuming he can stay healthy this season. With Stamkos' anticipated production and a few smart offseason signings by general manager Steve Yzerman, the Bolts have emerged as one of the sexier dark horse picks to battle for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

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Dallas Stars: Making noise in Texas

September, 24, 2014
Sep 24
The Dallas Stars are unquestionably the sexy pick to make some (more?) noise in the ultra-competitive Western Conference. A breakthrough season last year saw Tyler Seguin light it up offensively, Jamie Benn reinforce his position as one of the top young leaders in the game and the Stars sneak into the eighth seed in the West and give Anaheim all it could handle before fading in Game 6 of the opening round.

General manager Jim Nill has done yeoman service in landing two top-end centers in a little over a year, acquiring disgruntled former Ottawa captain Jason Spezza (and a winger for Spezza in Ales Hemsky) to take some pressure off Seguin, suggesting the Stars are indeed built to last at least offensively in the Central.

Seguin joked in a recent interview that he thinks other NHL teams are giving Nill good players because he's such a nice guy.

"He's the ultimate hockey guy that I've met in this business," Seguin said of his boss.

Defensively? Hmm. Well that's more a work in progress, but this is a team that looks poised to shake off years of mediocrity that stunted the franchise's growth in the heart of Texas.

You can read the rest of the preview here to find out who is expected to play a starring role, Mike Modano's thoughts on the Stars' future, predictions and more.

Central Division Preview

September, 23, 2014
Sep 23


Scott Burnside and Pierre LeBrun preview the toughest division in hockey, which could easily see five teams make the playoffs again this post season.

Stars rally to beat Blues 4-3

September, 22, 2014
Sep 22

DALLAS -- Jordie Benn and rookies Curtis McKenzie and Jason Dickinson scored third-period goals and the Dallas Stars rallied to defeat the St. Louis Blues 4-3 on Monday night.

St. Louis led 2-1 entering the third period before the Stars struck three times within 8 minutes. Dallas' third-period goals were against Niklas Lundstrom. Benn, who had only three goals last season, broke a 2-2 tie on the power play.

The Blues' Patrick Berglund assisted on Ryan Whitney's power-play goal and beat Dallas goalie Anders Lindback on a breakaway. Ian Cole scored in the third period for St. Louis.

Each starting goalie, the Blues' Brian Elliott and the Stars' Kari Lehtonen, allowed one goal and made 11 saves.

Dallas led 1-0 after one period on a goal by 34-year-old Vernon Fiddler.

Dickinson, 19, was Dallas' first-round draft pick in 2013.

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Rich Peverley still not skating

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Dallas Stars forward Rich Peverley is doing off-ice workouts but still is unable to skate with the team six months after an irregular heartbeat led to him collapsing on the bench during a game.

General manager Jim Nill says doctors will continue to monitor Peverley, who was with the team Friday for the start of training camp.

Nill said Peverley has improved but still needs clearance from other doctors before he can take the next step and get back on the ice. Nill expects the situation to be week to week, and says the team isn't going to rush the player.

Peverley's irregular heartbeat was diagnosed during training camp last year. He collapsed during a game March 10, and had surgery the following week to correct an abnormal heart rhythm.

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