Devon Toews makes good impression in NHL debut
DALLAS — After the Islanders’ top defense prospect, Devon Toews, 24, made his NHL debut in Sunday night’s 3-1 win over the Stars at American Airlines Arena, his teammates praised his veteran-like poise.
“I was very impressed with how he played today,” goalie Robin Lehner said. “He didn’t look nervous or anything. He played his game. He was fast. He was making his plays.”
Toews logged 18:05, with three shots and three attempts blocked, and saw time on the Islanders’ 1-for-3 power play and as the teams skated four-on-four. He also got to skate a pregame warmup lap on his own, a staple NHL ritual for rookie debuts.
The lefthanded-shooting Toews, playing on the right side, formed a third defense pair with Luca Sbisa. “Comfortable is probably a good way to put it,” Toews said. “Sbisa is a great defense partner for me. I thought we complemented each other really well. Everyone was in the right spots and we played a really tight game tonight.”
“He played with a lot of poise,” coach Barry Trotz added. “His skating allows for some separation. He makes good plays with the puck and he closes on people because of the skating. He was not intimidated when he was out there against top guys. That shows me he has a lot of confidence in his ability. He was one of our better guys tonight.”
Defenseman Johnny Boychuk, who missed a game for the first time this season, remained in New York after his wife, Sheena, gave birth to the couple’s third child and first son.
“It’s a little bit of a dream come true for every player who’s ever played in the NHL,” Trotz said. “But it goes deeper than that. It’s a family thing. The commitment that your parents made to get you to all those [youth] games and pay for your equipment and all the hard work you’ve put in over the years. It’s starting to pay off.”
Toews, called up from Bridgeport (AHL) on Wednesday and originally from Abbotsford, British Columbia, said his parents traveled to attend the game.
The NHL’s holiday roster freeze lasts until 12:01 a.m Friday. Unlike the NBA or NFL, the NHL has a three-day break for Christmas with no team activities through Wednesday. “It’s a good reset for a lot of the guys,” right wing Cal Clutterbuck said. “It’s almost like a checkpoint or a benchmark in the year and it’s nice to be home for a couple of days and not have to think about it.” . . . Forwards Ross Johnston and Tom Kuhnhackl remained the healthy scratches.
Here are the projected lineups:
Anders Lee-Brock Nelson-Jordan Eberle
Anthony Beauvillier-Mathew Barzal-Josh Bailey
Leo Komarov-Valtteri Filppula-Josh Ho-Sang
Matt Martin-Casey Cizikas-Cal Clutterbuck
Nick Leddy-Scott Mayfield
Adam Pelech-Ryan Pulock
Luca Sbisa-Devon Toews
Robin Lehner (5-6-3, 2.54 goals-against average, .917 save percentage)
Jamie Benn-Tyler Seguin-Denis Gurianov
Valeri Nichushkin-Jason Spezza-Alexander Radulov
Mattias Janmark-Martin Hanzal-Blake Comeau
Devin Shore-Radek Faksa-Tyler Pitlick
Esa Lindell-John Klingberg
Miro Heiskanen-Taylor Fedun
Gavin Bayreuther-Roman Polak
Anton Khudobin (6-6-2, 2.87, .911)