Friday, March 11, 2011
Tomas Vincour making his mark in NHL
By Mark Stepneski
Dallas Stars coach Marc Crawford said recently that forward Tomas Vincour had done everything but score. Well, now it appears that Vincour has done everything. The 20-year-old forward scored his first goal Wednesday night, adding some production to an already nice showing in his first crack at the NHL.
“Hopefully that is sign of what’s to come,” Crawford said. “We believe he’s got very good offensive instincts and offensive abilities, but the proof is in the fact that you convert those chances.”
Vincour, who was called up to the Stars from Texas of the AHL on February 6 due to a rash of injuries, had plenty of chances in his first 13 NHL games, but couldn’t find the back of the net. He finally was able to break through in game 14, scoring off a shot from the bottom of the left circle in the third period in the Stars’ 4-3 shootout loss to the Calgary Flames. But it was his goal – which was also his first NHL point – that tied the game and got the Stars a crucial point in the tight Western Conference playoff race.
“It feels great right now, but we didn’t get two points. I will definitely never forget this moment in my life,” Vincour said. “I think it was long enough, I didn’t score in (13) games and I had a lot of chances that just didn’t go in. I tried to shoot it from the corner and it went in, so I was happy.”
Despite the scoring drought prior to Wednesday’s game, the Stars liked what they had seen from the Czech native, a fifth round pick (129th overall) in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. Among the forwards called up fill in when needed this season, Vincour has stood out.
“He’s been the best of the guys that have come up. When you look at the ability of players to play with other good players, he’s at the top of that group,” said Crawford.
While the other players called up from Texas have taken on fourth line duties, Vincour has played up the lineup during his stay in Dallas. He was on a line with Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson for a while and Wednesday night he started the game on a line with Eriksson and Brad Richards.
“He’s a right-handed forward and he got a real good shot,” said Eriksson. “I think he’s been playing real well and I think he’s been creating a lot of chances out there and that’s always nice to see that.”
It’s been an impressive NHL debut for Vincour, who is in his first professional season. He started in the AHL, where his numbers weren’t that impressive. He got off to a slow start and had five goals and seven assists in 44 games with the Texas Stars when he was called up to the NHL. But Dallas thought he could be a better fit at the NHL level than in the AHL.
“He’s still learning to play the game, but sometimes it’s easier to play at the NHL level because players are where they are supposed to be and it’s not as much helter-skelter play as there can be on occasion at the lesser levels,” said Crawford. “He’s a very cerebral, intelligent player. His instincts take him to the right spots.”
Besides the smarts there are other attributes to like when it comes to Vincour.
“He’s got big size, he protects the puck extremely well, he makes good plays, he’s good on the forecheck and he’s congenial on the backcheck,” said Crawford. “He pays attention to the small details of the game.”
Vincour came to North America from Czech Republic at 16 to play junior hockey, and these days he’s getting more comfortable in the top league in world with each day.
“I think I’m getting used to it right now,” he said. “I’m trying to learn something new every day and every minute on the ice right now is so important.”
And he’s working hard to improve as well.
“Take a lot of shots before practice, get a quicker release,” he said when asked what he was working in his game these days.
And Wednesday night it paid off for him and the Stars.
*Defenseman Nicklas Grossman (hip) practiced Thursday. Stars coach Marc Crawford said a decision will be made at Friday morning’s skate if Grossman, who has missed the last eleven games, is ready to return to the lineup.
*The Stars will practice in at the Dr. Pepper StarCenter in Euless on Saturday. The practice will run from 11 a.m. to Noon (time changed) and is open to the public.
*Also on Saturday, Stars forward Steve Ott will be making an appearance at the Mansfield Half Price Books from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.