It didn’t take long for Tyler Seguin to make an impact in Friday’s scrimmage at the Fort Worth Convention Center on day two of Dallas Stars training camp.
Just 15 seconds into the scrimmage he set up a Valeri Nichushkin goal to give Team B a 1-0 lead over Team A. Later in the first period he picked off a pass and scored an unassisted goal to make it a 3-0 game.
“I thought he had a real good day, skated real well,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “They were chasing him around quite a bit, his skating was real evident. On the bench, he was talking about some of the reads, trying to help out Val (Nichushkin), which was pretty impressive. I thought yesterday was good, he was even better today.”
Also catching Ruff’s eye in the scrimmage was center Cody Eakin, who set up Team B’s second goal.
“I really liked the way he played today. He might have been the best player on the ice,” said Ruff. “He made a great play to (Jamie) Oleksiak on his goal. He really irritated a few players on the other team, he drew some penalties, he likes having the puck and he’s tough on the wall. I know he is on the smaller side, but he just comes out and competes every shift.”
Nichushkin had a strong showing as well in the scrimmage, which was won by Team B, 6-3. Besides that goal 15 seconds into the game, Nichushkin factored in the Oleksiak goal. He helped break up a play in the defensive zone, setting up the rush that led to the goal.
“His pace was real good. Skating-wise, he skated well again,” Ruff said of Nichushkin. “On the compete side, I thought he was one of the better players. It was a good day for him.”
Talking line combinations
Saturday morning’s intrasquad scrimmage and Sunday’s preseason opener against St. Louis at American Airlines Center should give us some insight into Ruff’s initial thoughts about line combinations. After Friday’s scrimmage he gave a hint of what he was thinking for this weekend.
“We’ve burned up quite a few napkins,” Ruff said. “We’d like to see (Jamie) Benn playing with (Tyler) Seguin. I think we’ve got (Cody) Eakin with maybe (Ray) Whitney and (Alex) Chiasson. We’ve got some ideas that we’d like to try.”
Ruff said some of the line combinations used in Saturday’s intrasquad scrimmage could be used in Sunday’s preseason game. Ruff said whatever the lines, he expects a good lineup for Sunday’s game against the Blues.
“My belief is that we always want to start off well in training camp, you want to win, you want to create that winning atmosphere. It’s our first game at home and it will be a good roster,” Ruff said.
Nill happy with players’ offseason work
When GM Jim Nill met with the Stars players at the end of last season he asked them to work hard over the summer to prepare for this season and to become everyday professionals. Nill said after watching his players the first few days of camp, the message appears to have hit home.
“The message I sent to players before they left was it’s about a lifestyle. It’s not just about hockey, it’s everything you do in life,” Nill said. “It’s doing it right, making the right decisions whether that is hockey or your family life or your business life. It’s making the right decisions and implementing those decisions.
“I’ve been very happy. I’ve seen the guys and they were very committed this summer. They’re conditioning is elite. They are excited about coming back. They want to be a winner. They want to win.
“The younger guys are starting to figure that out. The older guys have it. That’s why they are around the league still – the Whitneys, the Horcoffs, Gonchars and Fiddlers. That’s why they are in the league; nobody can take their job because they have figured it out. Here is what the life style is. I think we have enough veterans around these younger players that they are learning from them. “