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Morning Skate: Blumel Debut, Oettinger a Game-Time Decision vs Sharks

Matej Blumel will make his NHL debut and Jake Oettinger is a game-time decision Friday vs San Jose.

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After a long and winding road, Stars forward Matej Blumel will finally make his NHL debut on Friday against the San Jose Sharks. 

“Feels awesome. I am very excited,” he said. “It’s going to be a dream come true since I was a kid. All those morning practices are going to pay off finally. I am very excited.” 

Blumel has been through a bit of a roller coaster in his NHL career. One year ago, he was playing for the HC Dynamo in Czechia after being released by the Edmonton Oilers and not having any NHL offers on the table. 

After earning a contract with the Stars in July, he dominated at Traverse City and in Stars Training Camp, but was sent down to the AHL due to the depth at forward at the NHL level. Then, when he was called up last month, he sat for a few games before being sent back down because of Jake Oettinger's lower-body injury. 

But no matter what, the 22-year-old just continues to bring a positive attitude and tries to enjoy every moment. 

Now with Oettinger back on the active roster, it is yet another injury, this time to Denis Gurianov, that will allow Blumel to play in his first NHL game. 

“Last year when I was back home, I struggled a little bit,” Blumel said. “I didn’t expect to be in the NHL a year later. I just describe it as fun. I am very excited to be here. The fact that I get to play my first NHL game here at home in front of those fans, it’s awesome.” 

“We really try to do these things based on merit,” Stars Head Coach Pete DeBoer said. “You’re not rewarding guys because they are a high pick or have a certain contract. We really want to try to reward guys down there on a merit base. And he’s been the best forward. He’s gone down, picked right up from where he was in training camp. He scored six goals in nine or ten games, and even the game in Winnipeg the other night, he looked dangerous. So he deserves the opportunity.”

Who is Matej Blumel? 

Blumel is expected to slot into Gurianov’s spot on the right wing with Tyler Seguin and Mason Marchment. That trio has had some success, especially very early in the season, but DeBoer believes they can still be more. Perhaps Blumel can be the key to unlocking that next level.

“That’s the kind of opportunity a guy like that needs,” DeBoer said. “He can play an energy game, he’s a strong kid that skates really well. But I think his gifts are his offensive ability and his shot. He’s with some guys there that he’s going to get a chance to show what he can do.”

“I feel I can bring some speed to that line, some action too,” Blumel said. “Whenever those two are going to chip the puck into the zone, I can be there first and start the forecheck. I hope I can help these guys. If they are going to give me the puck and I’ll be in a scoring chance, I’ll just shoot it and we’ll see what happens.” 

Taking his chances and shooting the puck is not a concern with Blumel. Even DeBoer joked about it this morning when asked about young players deferring in their first NHL game.

“We did talk to him about that yesterday,” DeBoer said. “Getting to know him as a kid, I don’t think that’s a problem. I saw him go in on a 2-on-0 the other night in overtime and he didn’t even look to pass it. So I don’t think that’s going to be a problem with him.” 

Starting Goaltender: Jake Oettinger took part in his normal starting routine during morning skate after missing five games with a lower-body injury. DeBoer called him a game-time decision. Before the injury, Oettinger was the best goalie in the league with a 1.40 goals-against average (first) and a .952 save percentage (first). His numbers still rank atop the NHL. 

If he is not ready, he will back up Scott Wedgewood. 

Stars Projected Lines

  • Jason Robertson-Roope Hintz-Joe Pavelski
  • Mason Marchment-Tyler Seguin-Matej Blumel
  • Jamie Benn-Wyatt Johnston-Ty Dellandrea
  • Radek Faksa-Luke Glendening-Joel Kiviranta
  • Miro Heiskanen-Colin Miller
  • Ryan Suter-Nils Lundkvist
  • Esa Lindell-Jani Hakanpaa
  • Jake Oettinger
  • Scott Wedgewood

Sam’s Three Keys

  • Roll four lines against a San Jose team that played last night in St. Louis.
  • Let Jake Oettinger ease into the game.
  • Start fast and regain the confidence and pace after playing poorly in Winnipeg. 

He Said It 

“Just take it all in and enjoy the moment. That’s what I tried to do,” Wyatt Johnston said about Blumel making his debut. “It’s obviously a dream come true. You only have one first game and it was really special for me and my family. It was a pretty special and awesome day. He’s obviously a really good player.” 

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