Sunday, September 25, 2016

Offensive Defensemen Shine in Dallas Stars Scrimmage

Nick Ebert defends a pass (Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
The now-annual Victory Green and White scrimmage was light on super stars with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin both held out of the lineup. In addition, Cody Eakin, Ales Hemsky, Radek Faksa, Jason Dickinson, Devin Shore and Travis Morin all missed the game with various maladies. As such, it was an opportunity for some of those other players to make impressions. Nick Ebert, the return from Los Angeles in the Jack Campbell trade this summer, was foremost among them with a hat trick for team White. Of the eleven goals on the day, five were scored by defensemen.

"It was a really good day on the offensive side for our defensemen," said Dallas Stars head coach Lindy Ruff. "[Ebert] shot the puck really well. We emphasize getting up in the rush and the way we play fits his game."

Among defensemen, Mattias Backman and Julius Honka also scored.

Forward Denis Gurianov didn't score but made a decent impression with speed and some handy moves. "His game at Traverse got better as the games went on. What I've noticed is that he has a quick step and creates some of his own opportunities."

Goalies in the game were less than sparkling, which can't be a settling feeling for those who remember last season's Dallas Stars playoff exit. Each team split their goalie time evenly between an expected NHL and AHL netminder. For the Green team, Antti Niemi had five saves on six shots. Kari Lehtonen stopped nine of twelve for White. After the swap, Maxime Lagace stopped 7 of 8 shots against for White while Philippe Desrosiers smothered 8 of 13 shots for Green. Give it time as the team implements more defensive structure and put a more solidly NHL caliber defensive corps in front of the goalie before making a final judgement though.

Instead of power plays, penalties were resolved via penalty shot in the scrimmage. Patrick Eaves, Mattias Backman, Brendan Ranford and Cole Ully scored on the penalty shot. Other goal scorers included Remi Elie, on a nice tip from Johnny Oduya's point shot; Julius Honka, who slid down from the point and powered one past Kari Lehtonen; Patrick Sharp, off a nice pass from Connor Chatham; and Jiri Hudler, at a severe angle top shelf.

As far as injury updates, Devin Shore tweaked his ankle and will be out no more than a couple week according to Ruff.

Lines (in collaboration with Sean Shapiro)
Victory Green

Matt Mangene-Jason Spezza-Patrick Sharp
Brandon DeFazio-Gemel Smith-Connor Chatham
Remi Elie-Justin Dowling-Matej Stransky
Antoine Roussel-Patrick Eaves-Brett Ritchie

Johnny Oduya-Julius Honka
Ludwig Bystrom-Stephen Johns
Jordie Benn-Jamie Oleksiak
Dustin Stevenson

Philippe Desrosiers
Antti Niemi

White

Samuel Laberge-Mattias Janmark-Jiri Hudler
Curtis McKenzie—Adam Cracknell-Brendan Ranford
Brandon Anselmini-MIchael McMurtry-Branden Troock
Cole Ully-Denis Gurianov

Dan Hamhuis-John Klingberg
Patrick Nemeth-Andrew Bodnarchuck
Mattias Backman-Nick Ebert
Chris Martenet

Kari Lehtonen
Maxime Lagace

Note: White rolled 3 centers.

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