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Central Division notebook

Tyler Seguin speeding up for Stars; Colton Parayko of Blues gets degree

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

Dallas Stars center Tyler Seguin found the silver lining in all the rehabilitation he had to do over the past seven months, necessary evils because of a sliced Achilles tendon, a strained calf and a fractured heel.

"Someone who can actually make kale taste good," Seguin said in a deadpan voice during a phone conversation Wednesday.

Because his Achilles injury late last season limited how much he could walk and go out, Seguin, who normally likes to dine out and rarely cooks, hired a personal chef and discovered it's worth every calorie saved, even when eating kale.

"It worked out last year and I'm still doing it now," Seguin said. "It's great."

It's better now because Seguin is playing hockey too.

"If I'm not a hundred percent right now I'm 99.9 percent," Seguin said. "It's all good now."

It wasn't for most of the past seven months.

Seguin sustained a 15 percent cut to his Achilles tendon against the Tampa Bay Lightning on March 17. He didn't return until April 16, for Game 2 of the Western Conference First Round against the Minnesota Wild. He played 15:40 but sustained a calf strain that would keep him out for the rest of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, which ended for Dallas on May 11.

Video: DAL@COL: Seguin slams power-play goal from the slot

Seguin spent the summer recovering and was raring to go for Team Canada training camp in preparation for the World Cup of Hockey 2016. He didn't last two periods in the first pretournament game against Team USA on Sept. 9.

Seguin slid hard into the end boards and fractured his heel, and Ryan O'Reilly replaced him on the roster.

"I was thinking about my Achilles and my calf when it happened," Seguin said. "When I fell into the boards I said to myself, 'OK, this was the test I needed.' But then my heel just wasn't feeling right.

"In the end, the Stanley Cup is the goal and the Dallas Stars are my team, but obviously I was pretty frustrated about having to leave Team Canada."

Seguin isn't frustrated anymore.

"The attitude now is, this stuff is all behind me," he said. "I am feeling healthy and it's just about getting better every game now."

He feels that's happening too. Seguin said the season opener, a 4-2 win against the Anaheim Ducks, was a challenge because his eyes and mind were slow to catch up to his body. He scored in the second game, a 6-5 loss to the Colorado Avalanche, and since then he's felt more confident and comfortable.

"I think [his game] is getting close to where it needs to be," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "He's shooting the puck really well, I just think he's got another gear."

Ruff is talking about Seguin's breakaway burst of speed.

"In a split second he separates from people," Ruff said. "That's one of his biggest gifts. He can create separation. Some guys can create it from blue line to red line, he can create it in two strides. I've seen bits and pieces of it, but I don't think he's quite there yet."

He's close, though, and he's healthy. It's up to Seguin now to do the rest.

"I kept telling myself that everything happened for a reason, so now I'm waiting for something big to happen," he said. "I don't know if it's going to be a huge goal or a deep playoff run, but something good is going to happen."

Video: DAL@COL: Seguin sizzles a one-timer past Varlamov

 

Parayko a college graduate

When most of Colton Parayko's St. Louis Blues teammates were going home or back to the hotel to relax during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the defenseman was hitting the books in order to finish his degree in business administration at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Parayko graduated Aug. 12 after finishing two online courses during the summer. He took seven courses total after leaving Fairbanks to turn pro following the 2014-15 NCAA season. He took three in the spring, overlapping with the playoffs.

"I wanted to make sure I got it done," the 23-year-old said. "I spent three years in Alaska and I was pushing hard the whole time. I worked so hard to get to where I was, getting so close, and at the end of the tunnel you want to get it finished. At the same time you never know how far hockey can take you, you never know when you can be done, so I'll always have this degree."

Parayko said he enjoyed taking the three spring courses even though they coincided with the Blues' run to the Western Conference Final last season.

"I think it was almost a bonus for me, as weird as that sounds," he said. "It was an opportunity for me to get my mind away from hockey. ... I really enjoyed it."

Parayko's workload included two science courses, prerequisites to graduate. He took chemistry and an oceanography course. To complete chemistry, he had to purchase a take-home kit so he could conduct the experiments.

He also took courses in marketing and business to complete his program. He said he got mostly As with a few Bs sprinkled in and finished his degree with a 3.87 grade point average.

 

Stat pack

Now that Marian Hossa's 500th NHL goal is out of the way, the Chicago Blackhawks right wing can turn his focus to his next two attainable milestones: He is seven assists from 600 and seven points from 1,100. … The Nashville Predators have seven goals in three games; five have come on the power play. They are 5-for-11 for an NHL-best 45.5 percent. … Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko has four goals in four games, giving him eight goals in his past seven regular-season games.

Video: PHI@CHI: Hossa scores PPG for 500th career goal

 

Games to watch

Edmonton Oilers at Winnipeg Jets (Oct. 23, 3 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN, TVA Sports 2, NHL.TV) -- It's the 2016 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic at Investors Group Field featuring Oilers captain Connor McDavid and Jets rookie Patrik Laine. The game will be preceded Saturday by an alumni game that will include Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, Paul Coffey, Teemu Selanne and Dale Hawerchuk, among others.

Calgary Flames at St. Louis Blues (Oct. 25, 8 p.m. ET; FS-MW, SNF, NHL.TV) -- Flames goalie Brian Elliott returns to play his former team. Elliott has struggled with Calgary so far, allowing 10 goals on 55 shots (5.05 goals-against average, .818 save percentage) in two games.

Nashville Predators at San Jose Sharks (Oct. 29, 10:30 p.m. ET; CSN-CA, FS-TN, NHL.TV) -- It's the first game between the Predators and Sharks since San Jose defeated Nashville in seven games in the Western Conference Second Round last season.

Los Angeles Kings at Chicago Blackhawks (Oct. 30, 7 p.m. ET; NHLN, CSN-CH, FS-W, NHL.TV) -- The Kings are struggling with three regulation losses to start the season on top of the fact goalie Jonathan Quick, injured in the season opener, could be out three months, general manager Dean Lombardi told the Los Angeles Times.

Washington Capitals at Winnipeg Jets (Nov. 1, 8 p.m. ET; TSN3, CSN-DC, NHL.TV) -- Look for shooters in the left circle on the power play as Alex Ovechkin and Laine fire away against each other for the first time. Laine's shot has drawn comparisons to Ovechkin's.

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