In this edition of Stars’ News & Rumors, Roope Hintz finds his way back into the lineup, rookie Jacob Peterson is making an unexpected push, and the goalie battle is heating up!
Hintz’ First Game Back
It is finally happening, Stars fans. Roope Hintz has returned to the ice for the first time since his groin surgery this summer. After battling through the injury for the entirety of the 2020-21 season, he looks to play at 100 percent for the first time in a long time.
“It’s nice to get back and get to play a game, finally. It’s nice to play with them. I’ll try to focus on little things, just focus on every shift.”
Although the injury did not slow him down offensively last season (43 points in 41 games), it will be important for Hintz to find consistency after being injured in each of his first three NHL seasons. He returned in his normal spot on Thursday night, centering Joe Pavelski and Jason Robertson. Similarly to last season, there were no signs of ailment as Hintz was one of the best players in the game. In 15:55 of ice time, he recorded one goal, four shots, and a 63 percent faceoff percentage.
“When you see him coming through the middle of the ice like he was tonight, you know he’s feeling great. His reads were better than I thought they would be, his timing was really good, he showed what a great player he is.”
Peterson Making an Unexpected Push
When Jacob Peterson came over from Sweden for the start of Development Camp, no one would have guessed he would still be on the roster one week before the regular season began. The 22-year-old rookie forward faced a long list of challenges, including veteran depth and a smaller ice surface in North America. However, he has pushed through all adversity and forced the coaching staff to keep him around.
“He’s looked very good and he’s fit in with whoever you’ve played him with. He played with [Tyler Seguin] the other night. The guys love playing with him because he’s got such good hockey sense and skills. He makes plays and he kills penalties, he’s good on the power play. We want to keep looking at him but he’s put himself in a position, in a serious position, to make the hockey club. He’s been that good.”
Not only has he stuck around, he has been one of the Stars’ best players through the preseason. With three assists and a beautiful shootout-clinching goal so far, he has shown everyone around this team that he is NHL ready.
“I think his skill is the first thing, but the thing I noticed right away was his confidence and his mind. He’s not your typical rookie… I went to kind of help him and he didn’t need my help. You don’t see that too often. Realizing he’s 22 years old, he’s played pro already over in Sweden, he’s going to be a heck of a hockey player.”
Peterson should play in the Stars’ final preseason game on Saturday in Colorado. If he has a strong game, it will be tough for Bowness to keep him off the roster when they head to New York for opening night.
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Stars’ Goalie Battle Heating Up
The hottest topic of the summer has continued to draw attention in the early fall. The Stars have four NHL goaltenders for two spots and a heap of drama surrounding them. Ben Bishop has not yet been added to the long-term injured reserved list, but that seems to be where he is heading before opening night. Anton Khudobin responded with a solid 26-save performance on Thursday after allowing four first-period goals in his first start of the preseason. Youngster Jake Oettinger knew he needed to be the clear choice if he wanted to crack the lineup, but has struggled to find his game to this point. Finally, newcomer Braden Holtby has been the best goalie to this point. With a 1.20 goals-against average and .954 save percentage in 100 minutes, he has seemingly inched himself into the lead on the depth chart.
“He was great. He played a very good game. We love his poise, we love his ability to handle the puck, he gets it and moves it right away in the right spots. He was really, really good, so we’re very thrilled with what we saw tonight.”
With only one game remaining in the preseason, it is still up in the air which two goaltenders will make the roster. While it seems likely that Khudobin and Holtby will be the choice, which goalie will be the starter on opening night and beyond?
With each edition, we inch closer to the NHL regular season. The Stars’ roster is nearly final, each player has dressed in one game other than Bishop, and we have really started to see the type of team that Dallas can be.
Sam Nestler is a Dallas Stars contributor for the ‘The Hockey Writers’. Growing up in New Jersey, Sam has been playing hockey since he was 7 years old. Developing a love for writing in college, Sam uses his hockey knowledge to create analyses and articles on every aspect of the game. Sam also hosts his own podcast on Spotify, the “Slapshot Sammy’ podcast, breaking down action across the NHL and NCAA. Check out the podcast here, and give his latest article a read!