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After eight weeks of being sidelined with a knee injury, Marc Methot could potentially return tomorrow. Where will the Dallas Stars fit him in a crammed defensive lineup?

Having too much of a good thing can be bad, and the Dallas Stars know that.

Over the past few years, the Stars seem to have struggled with having too much offensive talent. With a limited number of starting spots, the mix between veteran skaters and young, thriving prospects proved to be a tad excessive. As a result, some changes had to be made to keep everything aligned.

Now the Stars seem to have an issue on defense as well.

After spending the past eight weeks recovering from surgery on an injured knee, Dallas defenseman Marc Methot finally looks ready to return to the lineup. The Stars traded for Methot this past June in a deal with the Vegas Golden Knights.

He played every game for the Stars this season up until November 6 and has been on the IR ever since. The initial projection was four to six weeks, but recovery time has taken longer than expected. Still, there is supposed to be a good chance that Methot is ready for tomorrow’s game against New Jersey.

But where will he fit in the lineup? This could end up being the most difficult question to answer so far this season.

Methot is a good veteran defender. He’s a stay-at-home caliber defenseman that plays a solid game in the defensive zone. He has yet to tally a point this season, though that is typical for defensive defensemen. His possession numbers are not terrific by any means, but he finished the first part of the year with a -1.

Though his stats may not look it, Methot is still a very smart and capable veteran defender that can help the Dallas lineup both at even strength and on the penalty kill.

But where is he going to slide into the lineup? It’s a tough question, and that’s primarily because of the current defensive success that Dallas is having.

When Methot initially went out with his injury, it left Dallas with six defensemen on their roster.  Esa Lindell, John Klingberg, Dan Hamhuis, Greg Pateryn, Stephen Johns, and Jamie Oleksiak were the only starters Dallas had to choose from after exiting training camp with nine NHL-ready defenders. So it was pretty slim pickings.

More From Blackout Dallas: What We Learned About The Stars In First Half Of Season

In addition to that, the Stars defense wasn’t looking too hot. They had struggled in the first month of the season to play consistently and with structure and gave up three or more goals in eight of their first 15 games. That’s not an ideal number for a defense trying to be much better than they were last year.

With the Methot injury, Dallas recalled Julius Honka for the second time in mid-November in an attempt to give themselves another option on the blue line.

After a few weeks of juggling defensive pairings and trying to find a happy medium, the Stars finally seem to have found a unit that works.
Dan Hamhuis – Greg Pateryn

Stephen Johns – Julius Honka

These three pairings have given the Stars a consistently solid effort in each game and are buying the team opportunities to win. Dallas is confident in this group and even traded Jamie Oleksiak to the Pittsburgh Penguins, which cut the number of defenders down to an ideal six.

But now Methot is back, and he needs a spot. Though Dallas shouldn’t have to make any changes in terms of roster reduction, someone will likely come out of the lineup. So, who will Ken Hitchcock scratch?

The most likely scenario is that he moves Honka to the “seventh defenseman” role and slots Methot in no. 6’s spot. But do you really want to move Honka after he’s played 11 straight games, been a possession monster, posted a +2, and is continuing to develop into a strong NHL defender while skating limited minutes?

Still, it’s probably the route Dallas will take. For all the #FreeHonka people out there, I’m sorry.

Once Methot is back in the lineup, though, where will he play? Lindell and Klingberg are providing a quality top pairing for Dallas and are skating heavy minutes both at even strength and on special teams. They provide a great two-way balance for Dallas and generate plenty of offensive pressure.

Just below them, you have Hamhuis and Pateryn, who are arguably just as good together as the top pairing. The Stars have found a gold mine with no. 2 and no. 29, with both guys playing a defensive-centered role. Each can play heavy minutes on the penalty kill and give Dallas a shutdown presence in the defensive zone. It’s gotten to the point where Hitchcock will even call on his second pairing more often than he does his first.

So do you really gamble and break either of these two pairings up, especially when they are both giving you consistently solid outings? It’s going to be a tough decision either way.

If Hitchcock wants to keep his top two pairings and hopefully continue to see success from them, he can always put Methot on the third pairing with Stephen Johns. The two have played together some this year and compliment each other’s playing styles well.

All in all, it will be interesting to see where Hitchcock slots no. 33 upon his return to the lineup. One wrong move could be disastrous for the entire defensive corps. But on the bright side, Methot’s return will signal a reborn sense of competition. The window for error will be very small now considering the Stars have seven defenders to choose from. Hopefully that will lead to consistent results.

Cheap St. Louis Blues Jersey Wholesale From China For Slae

St. Louis Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo was activated from injured reserve Sunday after missing four games with a lower-body injury.

He will be available for Sunday’s game against the Winnipeg Jets. Pietrangelo has been out since suffering the injury in the first period of a 6-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Dec. 9.

Pietrangelo has 23 points this season (7 goals, 16 assists), the eighth most among defensemen, and a plus/minus of plus-14.

He has 326 points (72 goals, 254 assists) in 569 career games, all with the Blues.

The Blues are tied with the Nashville Predators for the Central Division lead with 46 points.

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Jonathan Quick makes the save against Brandon Sutter

Jonathan Quick makes the save against Brandon Sutter

LOS ANGELES — You’re often supposed to be careful what you wish for.

Travis Green knew what awaited his club Tuesday and he sounded part hopeful and part prophet.

“It’s a good challenge, a big challenge and I like it when you face some hard games,” the Vancouver Canucks coach said just before his club met the Los Angeles Kings. “You learn a lot about your team. And there might not be a bigger challenge in our division than coming into L.A.”

Well, he nailed that one.

The Canucks dug a two-goal hole before four minutes elapsed against the National Hockey League’s second-stingiest team and top-ranked penalty kill. They were overmatched and even overwhelmed at the outset and looked like they were going to go quietly into the SoCal night.

Then Derek Dorsett got mad.

Then the Canucks got resilient.

Then they found new power play combinations that actually worked.

It turned the improbable into an impressive 3-2 victory. And it capped a revealing four-game road trip in which the Canucks rode a roller-coaster of indifferent play yet finished 2-2 because they finally found some power play mojo.

Here’s what we learned:
Boeser and the dot

Brock Boeser was feeling it. He not only got to the faceoff dot on a new-look power play to let that heavy wrist shot go, it struck Jonathan Quick on the shoulder and Bo Horvat was there to jam home the rebound.

The goal was encouraging on several fronts.

For starters, there was movement. There was the symmetry of Henrik and Daniel Sedin and the smart cross-ice pass by the captain to find Boeser in his favourite shooting spot.

What took so long?

It was also Henrik’s first power play point of the season and the centre actually started the comeback. His shot off the wall went off the butt of Nick Short and found the short side.

And because you can’t really quibble with the Canucks’ play at even strength, the power play adjustment ended an 0-for-11 funk after being blanked with the man advantage in San Jose and Anaheim.

Green had three different power play alignments in practice Monday and said he had options. And his gut told him to find the right shooter and net-presence guy to complement the Sedins. It not only worked, it’s a bonafide first unit because there’s a passer, shooter and finisher.

If that wasn’t enough man-advantage hope, the game winner started with a sweet cross-ice feed by Thomas Vanek to Sven Baertschi on the second power play unit. He got Quick moving the wrong way and went far side.
Dorsett being Dorsett

Green didn’t expect Derek Dorsett to back down against the Kings, even though the pesky winger and leading goal scorer is skating on thin suspension ice. He has two instigator penalties and a third warrants a two-game suspension.

That didn’t stop Dorsett when he attempted to shift momentum after the Kings needed just 23 seconds to open scoring on Anders Nilsson, who got better as the game progressed. He stopped Tanner Pearson on a short-handed break with the game tied 2-2 early in the third period and then stopped Adrian Kempe with 3:48 left.

Dorsett took on Andy Andreoff but made sure he didn’t start the bout or throw the first punch. After that, he landed several blows.

The Canucks attempted to get Dorsett’s instigator penalty Thursday in Anaheim against Josh Manson rescinded, but the league cited distance travelled and fight initiation in its ruling. So, what do you say to a guy who needs to play on the edge, but not go over it?

“There’s not much to say,” said Green. “He’s an aggressive player and sticks up for his teammates. You never want to take that away from a player. I think both of his instigator calls could have gone either way, to be honest.

“He’s not a guy who goes and instigates a lot fights — he fights straight up his whole career.”
Gaunce versus Virtanen

Green said his rationale for playing Brendan Gaunce with Sutter and Dorsett was based on moving Markus Granlund to the middle between Vanek and Sam Gagner. Gaunce is a big body, but so is Jake Virtanen and there’s the debate.

Both have played 80 NHL games, but Virtanen is a better skater, has more scoring potential and Tuesday was tailor made to bring physicality back to his game. He sat while Gaunce took a bad offensive-zone tripping penalty in the first period that led to an Anze Kopitar goal.

You could argue giving Virtanen more minutes on a shutdown line might be too big an ask, but why not find out? Then again, it was Gaunce’s backhand saucer pass that sprung Sutter and resulted in his failed penalty shot.

OVERTIME: Green said he expects to have Chris Tanev (thumb) back in 1 1/2 weeks. That might make the defenceman eligible to return at some point in the team’s six-game road trip that opens next Tuesday in Philadelphia.

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Florida Panthers

Florida Panthers

It was a tough Saturday night at the BB&T Center in Sunrise for Panthers fan Charles Sternfield — the Detroit Red Wings beat the Panthers 3-2 and an octopus reportedly hit Sternfield in the head.

WSVN Channel 7 reports Sternfield got smacked in the head with the 10-pound sea creature during the national anthem. He told the station, “It was quite heavy. It hurt me, and I was quite shaken up by it. I certainly wasn’t expecting to get hit in the head by a large animal of some type.”

As puckheads know, this kind of thing can happen when Detroit comes to town.

The 65-year-old tradition — it’s reached retirement age, but it’ll never be retired — started in 1952, during the NHL’s six-team days. Four teams made the playoffs, meaning a team had to win two best four-of-seven series to win the Stanley Cup. The dominant Red Wings team not only won both series, did so in a pair of four-game sweeps.

The night of the Cup-clinching eighth playoff win, a pair of Detroit storeowners snuck a octopus into the game and threw it onto the ice, the eight legs symbolizing Detroit’s eight playoff wins.

The tradition faded during the “Detroit Dead Things” era of the 1970s and 1980s. With Detroit’s revival as a perennial powerhouse in the 1990s, the octopus tossing returned during the playoffs. Then, it expanded outside the playoffs as the Red Wings’ resurrection led to Detroit fans being the NHL’s version of the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers.

Similar to the way Pittsburgh natives who left during the city’s economic transition packed stadiums for Steelers road games, Detroit-area natives who left during Motown’s economic turbulence of the last half century made the Red Wings the NHL’s best road draw during the 1990s and 2000s. And, on more than one occasion, one of them indulged in the octopus tradition.

Obviously and unfortunately, Saturday’s thrower didn’t obey proper octopus-throwing form to get proper ice-reaching distance.

WSVN reports the Sunrise police are looking into the incident.