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Catching Up With Matt Niskanen

by Olivia Kiespert / Dallas Stars

Matt Niskanen is one of many players back in town, working out and preparing for Training Camp in Frisco. recently sat down with him after a workout.

Niskanen Video Highlights
How did you spend your summer?

“I spent it back home with family and friends in northern Minnesota. I did a lot of fishing, a little bit of golf and the usual training and skating stuff.”

Last year you set a personal best in points and led all Dallas defensemen in scoring. How do you plan to build on your success from last year?

“That [scoring] is part of my game that I think I have to bring. I’m not a big bruising defensemen so I’ve got to do good things with the puck. I just want to keep getting better at all aspects of my game. We need to stay healthy with the team we have because points come from how well the team is doing.”

What are your goals for the season, both for the Stars and you personally?

“Number one, make the playoffs. In shorter term, we want to get off to a better start than we did last year, we kind of dug ourselves a hole. Personally, I just want to continue to get better as the season goes on. I want to be as solid of a two-way defensemen as I can be.”

You played in 80 games last year, but the Stars lost 379 man games due to injury. How important will it be to stay health and keep a consistent lineup this throughout the season?

“As we learned last year, it’s tough when you lose key guys for that amount of time, but it’s something you don’t really control. Hockey is a physical sport, injuries happen. It would be nice to have a little bit of luck on our side in that department this year. As long as guys are in shape and can stay healthy, we will have out best lineup out there as much as we can, and we should be right there in the race.”

How do you prepare for games? Do you have certain foods you always eat or listen to the same music?

“I don’t really have much control over the music, that’s Otter’s role. I usually have chicken and pasta for lunch every day. I have my routine to warm up before the game.”

The defensive core is very young but has a good amount of experience. With two solid seasons completed, you are kind of a veteran on the blueline. What are your thoughts on the Stars defense going into the season?

“We will be young, but we do have some experience, and key experience from the playoffs two years ago. With today’s NHL, defensemen have to be able to move and move the puck, and I think we have that as a group. Robi is going to be our leader back there, and we’ve all got to do our part and raise our game to help the team win.”

How do adding players like Jeff Woywitka and Karlis Skrastins help the team?

“It will help having a couple of new guys. Skrastins is a good veteran, very solid, and Woywitka has been looking really good out here the last couple of days. Woywitka is a bigger guy who is very mobile. As a group, we’ve got a lot of things we can bring to the table. We just have to push each other and find the right combination to produce victories when the season starts.

What NHL player would you least want to face in a fight?

“Probably [Georges] Laraque. He’s a beast of a man and he throws lefts. I wouldn’t have a clue what to do.”

What is something fans would be surprised to learn about you?

“Two years ago, I would have said, ‘I’m not from Finland,’ but now I think that’s cleared up. I wear my skates looser than just about anybody I know, I like the mobility.”

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