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Islanders' Grabner aims for follow-up success

Sunday, 09.25.2011 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 15

John Kreiser - Columnist

Michael Grabner made the most of what might well have been his last chance.

"I had a lot of (scoring) chances even before, but I didn't have too much confidence -- I missed a few and then I got a little bit down on myself. After the All-Star Game, I didn't let it bother me when I missed a chance -- I'd just try to go out on the next shift and score."
-- Michael Grabner

The Florida Panthers acquired Grabner from the Vancouver Canucks during the 2010 Entry Draft, only to waive the 14th pick of the 2006 draft after a disappointing preseason in which he went scoreless in four games.

"I knew I wasn't going to get too many more chances," Grabner told "I don't think it was that bad. I felt good going into training camp. I didn't do anything in the preseason games. I didn't create any offense, I didn't play my game, didn't score any goals. They did what they had to do.

"I was ready to go down to Rochester (Florida's AHL affiliate). I would have gone down and tried to work my way back."

Instead, he got another NHL chance when the New York Islanders claimed him on waivers -- and this time, he made the most of it. He led all rookies last season with 34 goals -- the most by any first-year player since Alex Ovechkin had 52 goals and Sidney Crosby had 39 in 2005-06 -- and was a Calder Trophy finalist.

Playing shorthanded no disadvantage for Islanders

Sunday, 09.25.2011 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 15

John Kreiser - Columnist

Advantage Margin: -8
The Isles were among the League's better teams at drawing power plays (302, No. 8 in the League) but the NHL's most-penalized team was, not surprisingly, among the busiest at having to kill penalties (310, 23rd).

Special Teams Goal Margin: +8
That the Isles were positive on special teams mostly is attributable to two players -- Frans Nielsen and Michael Grabner. The Isles' top penalty-killing duo combined for 13 of the Islanders' League-leading 15 shorthanded goals.

Goals by defensemen: 24
Considering they played all season without Mark Streit, their best defenseman, getting as many goals as they did from their defense corps was an achievement. Streit's return should bump this number higher.

Overtime Record
Total: 11-7-6 OT: 7-7 SO: 4-6

The Isles' shootout record would have been better if their goaltenders had done better than a .588 save percentage. New York's shooters were 5-for-10 on the road but just 6-for-21 at home.

Lidstrom's return keeps Wings a Cup contender

Sunday, 09.25.2011 / 12:01 AM /'s 30 in 15

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

What a difference a Norris Trophy makes.

After the 2009-10 season, a growing contingent of people in Detroit thought legendary Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom should retire. They changed their tune in a hurry last season, as the 41-year old rebounded by winning his seventh Norris Trophy.

In fact, after the Red Wings were defeated in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals by the San Jose Sharks, some of those same doubters were the first to say Detroit would be sunk if Lidstrom retired. They probably were right about that, especially with the unexpected retirement of puck-moving defenseman Brian Rafalski.

Good thing for the Red Wings that Lidstrom opted to come back for his 20th NHL season. That decision was quite a relief for Red Wings General Manager Ken Holland, who's undertaking a tricky venture with the roster.

Stars showed little power in their man-advantage play

Saturday, 09.24.2011 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 15

John Kreiser - Columnist


Category Rank (Conference)
2010-11 Points 95  (9th West/16th NHL)
Change from 2009-10 +7
Home Points 52  (6th West/10th NHL)
Road Points 43  (10th West/17th NHL)
Advantage Margin: +29
The Stars were second in the West and sixth in the League in drawing power plays, earning 306. They did a good job staying out of the box -- especially on the road, where they were shorthanded just 134 times, tied for the second-fewest in the NHL.

Special Teams Goal Margin: -5
That the Stars were at a deficit on special teams can be laid at the feet of the power play, which scored only 55 times (matching the number of power-play goals allowed, despite having those 29 extra chances), and surrendered 15 shorthanded goals.

Goals by defensemen: 26
The arrival of Alex Goligoski in a late-season trade with Pittsburgh was a boost to the blue line. He finished the season with 14 goals, five of them in 23 games after coming to Dallas.

Team goals all that Morrow cares about

Saturday, 09.24.2011 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 15

David Kalan - Staff Writer

When the 2011-12 season starts, Dallas Stars captain Brenden Morrow will be just 9 points from the 500th of his career.

If you weren't aware of Morrow's impending accomplishment, don't feel bad. Neither was he.

"I had no clue how close I was. That's pretty cool," Morrow told "I think I scored my 200th goal last year. I don't know where the puck is. ... I was happy to get one. I was happy to play a game. I was happy to get a game in the NHL, and it's just been gravy since then."

Increased expectations for All-Star Eriksson

Saturday, 09.24.2011 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 15

Steve Hunt - Correspondent

"We had played together for a couple of years and it will be a bit of a change. It's nothing you can think about, really. I'm going to try to do my best and play like I've been the last couple of years."
-- Loui Eriksson

FRISCO, Texas -- Loui Eriksson was an NHL All-Star for the first time last season, a big achievement for the Dallas left wing. He wasn't alone at the 2011 midseason classic, as Stars center Brad Richards also was a participant.

"It was really fun," Eriksson said of his trip to Carolina for the festivities. "It was unbelievable to see all the great players that were there. I can't describe the feeling. It's something you dream of doing when you're a kid, and then you're right there. That's something I want to do again, so I'm going to do all I can to get back there."

Stars using last season's adversity as motivation

Saturday, 09.24.2011 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 15

Steve Hunt - Correspondent

After missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs for three consecutive seasons, the goal for the 2011-12 Dallas Stars is simple -- return to the postseason. Last season's team came close, finishing with 95 points, two shy of eighth place.

And considering the way the season ended -- a 5-3 loss at Minnesota on the season's final day when a win would have put them in the playoffs -- that disappointment could serve as motivation going forward. 

"I do feed a bit from negativity," Stars center Steve Ott said. "Not having a chance to play in the playoffs left an extremely sour taste in my mouth. It's been three years now."

Gulutzan's energy, enthusiasm contagious for Stars

Saturday, 09.24.2011 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 15

Steve Hunt - Correspondent

"Having a new coach, an energetic, young guy who has some pretty good philosophies on the game, I'm excited to see how it translates on the ice. Having that new face and bright smile on it, it makes it fun and energetic to come to the rink." -- Steve Ott

FRISCO, Texas -- Almost from the moment he was announced as the Dallas Stars' new coach in June, there was a great deal of positive energy surrounding Glen Gulutzan.

And now that the Stars are rolling toward the start of the season, that energy and enthusiasm clearly has caught on with the Dallas players.

There is a definite buzz around the club, whether it's during or after practice, or even during a game. It's a different vibe than in years past -- and that's a good thing.

"Having a new coach, an energetic, young guy who has some pretty good philosophies on the game, I'm excited to see how it translates on the ice," Dallas center Steve Ott said. "Having that new face and bright smile on it, it makes it fun and energetic to come to the rink."

Parise healthy and ready to get back to work

Saturday, 09.24.2011 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 15

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

Zach Parise got a pretty good look at the New Jersey Devils last season. A knee injury in October allowed him to observe the team from afar for the next five months, a team that at times was the worst in the League and at times the best.

"It was really frustrating, from both sides," Parise said. "At the beginning, when we were struggling, you want to be there and help out. Then the other time, when everyone is winning and having fun, you want to be there, too. You definitely see the game from a different perspective from up in the suites. You see different things on the ice, which could be a good thing. You don't wish it upon anyone, but it's good to see things from up there."

DeBoer enters new job expecting to succeed

Saturday, 09.24.2011 / 3:00 AM /'s 30 in 15

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

New Jersey Devils coach Peter DeBoer recently was asked what change is needed to assure his team re-establishes itself as a legitimate Stanley Cup contender.

"I think we have to pick up where we left off last year," DeBoer told "Jacques (Lemaire), to his credit, came in and re-established New Jersey's identity as a team that was hard to play against every night. That played a big role in the team winning games in all kinds of different ways."

DeBoer was referring to New Jersey's 29-17-3 run under Lemaire, who replaced John MacLean as coach Dec. 23. As good a finish as it was, it wasn't enough to dig out of their early hole. The Devils ultimately missed the playoffs for the first time in 14 seasons.
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