Sunday, September 17, 2017

Justin Dowling Knows What He Needs to Do to Get Back to NHL, Impresses in Scrimmage

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)
At age 26, Justin Dowling knows what kind of player he is. Being that player, defensively responsible, able to play the PK, and with a scoring knack, gave him a chance at the NHL last season. He relished the opportunity and has every intent of getting back. Today's two goals in the prospect scrimmage was a great start to making a racket in training camp.

"I'm old enough now that I know what they expect from me and what kind of player I am," Dowling said after day two of camp. "It won't change now that I'm 26. I have to do the things I do well. I have to pick things up fast and do them well.

"It was nice to get a sniff last year and it gives me that drive to get back there."

Coach Hitchcock put Dowling in a limited group of three who changed the coaching staff's opinions on themselves today. The other two were Nick Caamano, who also had two goals, and Gemel Smith. The coaches are looking to make grouping changes and adjustments to Tuesday's exhibition game roster based on the scrimmage. Dowling may have landed himself a place in that match against St. Louise.

In the offseason, Dowling had to recover from hand surgery stemming from a late season injury with Texas. "Recovery went well, but [the injury] put a damper on the season in addition to not making the playoffs. It was good to get healthy and get a fresh start."

The uptempo camp has been a well-worn narrative at this point, and Dowling agrees with it, taking a unique stance on the mixture of drills and skating.

(Credit: Texas Stars)
"It's different than most training camps I've been to, a lot more structure. It's fast tempo, almost like a hidden [bag skate] in a sense where you're doing system work but going for long reps, getting your skating in that way. There's a lot of 1 on 1 battles to get in game shape and form. I've loved it so far and the tempo has been great."

As far as new systems, they are coming fast and furious on both offense and defense. Asked about those systems, Dowling noted a Hitchcock mantra: "The best way to play defense is to have the puck the whole time."

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