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Keeping it fresh: Montgomery, Stars show willingness to mix things up

The first-year coach gives a potential look into his strategy in Dallas' scrimmage, testing new combinations

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

BOISE, Idaho -- After two days of running consistent lines and defense pairs at training camp, Dallas Stars coach Jim Montgomery made some changes for Sunday's Victory Green-White Scrimmage at CenturyLink Arena in Boise, Idaho.

"We're going to move people around a lot," Montgomery said. "My history is you'll see a lot of combinations. I want people to play with different people, so when you see it in a game, especially towards the end of the year and in the playoffs, they don't see it as a panic move but just something that I do."

Among Sunday's moves, Montgomery put Blake Comeau on the top line with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin and moved Alexander Radulov to a line with Jason Spezza and Valeri Nichushkin. Montgomery said he was interested in seeing Radulov and Nichushkin together.

"The thought of having Radulov be a tutor for Nichushkin, to see if he could take him to another level and I thought they did," Montgomery said. "Their puck possession was excellent."

Video: Victory Green tops White in annual camp scrimmage

Comeau, signed as a free agent over the summer, has been in a top-six role through the first few days of camp. Montgomery sees Comeau as a player who can move up and down the lineup -- a security blanket who can fit anywhere.

"I think he is a top-nine option on all three lines," Montgomery said. "He's a guy whose details are really good and who can create a lot of turnovers for whoever he plays with. And he has the ability to make plays, so he is a great complementary winger."

One other move of note among the forwards Sunday, Mattias Janmark skated on a line with Radek Faksa and Tyler Pitlick. And although the lines did change, what could be a top-nine group of players among the forwards has remained the same through the first weekend of camp.

The players who seem to be in the mix for the fourth line and possibly getting bumped up to a third line role - Devin Shore, Brett Ritchie, Jason Dickinson, Gemel Smith, and Remi Elie were spread around the lineup for Sunday's scrimmage.

Video: Jim Montgomery reflects on training camp in Boise

Shore, who had played left wing the first two days of camp, lined up at center on Sunday with Adam Mascherin and Jason Robertson on his wings and that trio was effective in the scrimmage. Smith took Shore's spot on a line with Dickinson and Ritchie.

On defense, the Esa Lindell-John Klingberg and Miro Heiskanen-Stephen Johns pairs remained together Sunday. With Marc Methot getting Sunday off, Julius Honka skated with Gavin Bayreuther. Roman Polak skated with John Nyberg.

Polak has had a pretty strong first few days of camp. He was very impressive Saturday in the compete and 1-on-1 drills, and not many fared well against him. Polak and Nyberg were a solid pair in Sunday's scrimmage. Montgomery said Bayreuther had a strong showing Sunday.

Nyberg, who is coming off two seasons in Sweden's top league, and Bayreuther, who had a solid rookie season in the AHL, along with Dillon Heatherington, who was held out of the scrimmage as he comes off offseason wrist surgery, appear to be the key depth guys on defense in the AHL.

Video: Tyler Seguin discusses 'snowy' scrimmage

 

Scrimmage lineup

Here's a look at the full lineups for Sunday's scrimmage.

 

Team Green

Valeri Nichushkin - Jason Spezza - Alexander Radulov 
Mattias Janmark - Radek Faksa - Tyler Pitlick 
Remi Elie - Roope Hintz - Erik Condra 
Michael Mersch - Justin Dowling - Denis Gurianov

Esa Lindell - John Klingberg 
Gavin Bayreuther - Julius Honka 
Joel Hanley - Niklas Hansson

Ben Bishop 
Landon Bow

Video: Blake Comeau recaps Victory Green vs. White scrimmage

 

Team White

Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Blake Comeau 
Gemel Smith - Jason Dickinson - Brett Ritchie 
Adam Mascherin - Devin Shore - Jason Robertson 
Nick Caamano - Ty Dellandrea - Colin Markison

Miro Heiskanen - Stephen Johns 
John Nyberg - Roman Polak 
Jakob Stenqvist - Reece Scarlett

Anton Khudobin 
Colton Point

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.

Mark Stepneski has covered the Stars for DallasStars.com since 2012. Follow him on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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