Saturday, April 8, 2017

Dallas Finale Affords First NHL Chance to Denis Gurianov

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
In the final game of the 2016-17 season for the NHL's Dallas Stars, the lineup was nearly unrecognizable compared to the first. Dotted across the roster were Texas Stars recalls necessitated by injury across a long, difficult season. In all, the final game featured six players who were playing in the AHL as recently as last month. Justin Dowling was also in the press box with an injury sustained in Thursday's game.

Dallas head coach Lindy Ruff said the development of the players from Texas and the younger players was the thing that was most impressive this season.

The player everyone had their eye on was Denis Gurianov. The 2016 first round pick was playing his first NHL game after a solid rookie season in Cedar Park. No one expected to see the Russian in Dallas this year, but the depth of the system was challenged greatly and, in the final game with nothing to play for but pride, why not?

Gurianov finished the game with 13:06 of ice time. It was the lowest total on the team, but it was noticeable when he was on the ice. He started the game, perhaps to calm the nerves a bit, and had a good chance in the first period.

"For the first game, I thought he got a really good feel for the speed of the game," said Ruff. "Some of those plays where he got wound up down the wing, he would have been in [those plays] in the American League maybe. But I think he realizes everyone is mobile and fast here, and he just has to get stronger and quicker with the hands. Early on he was a little nervous to make a play, but it was still a good showing."

Gurianov was happy to get the win and get a chance to play at this level. He said after the game he was nervous coming in but calmed down after getting to handle the puck right out of the gate. Gurianov will likely rejoin the Texas Stars for their final three game of the season back in the Lone Star State.

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