Dallas Stars Ups & Downs: Week 4

We're going to start a new weekly feature here on Defending Big D that we're planning on running each Monday. Introducing the Dallas Stars Ups & Downs.

We do a lot of analyzing of each individual player on the Dallas Stars and we figured (after seeing it done elsewhere) that it would be very interesting to sort of track the progress of each player on the team on a week to week basis. This is a great way to draw our attention to the players not in the direct spotlight and analyze just what they have been -- or haven't been -- contributing to the team.

It's important to remember that these trends are relative to each players' own performances and expectations. While the team might be struggling or playing great as whole, it's likely that a player could be trending in a different direction individually. Each post on Monday will cover the week preceding and we'll base the trends on a week to week basis only. A player could be having a great season, but had a bad week; thus, he might get stuck with a "down arrow" for that single week.

Since we're starting this feature nearly a month into the season, this week's post covers a bit more broad range than the ones we'll have in the future.

Trends after the jump:

Goalies Trend Notes
Kari Lehtonen
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Was absolutely terrific through his first seven starts, then a combination of horrendous defense, bad luck and natural regression gave Lehtonen three straight losses. He's now sporting a mediocre .908 Sv%, thanks in large part stopping just 32 of the last 41 shots he's faced.
Andrew Raycroft
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Looked terrific in his first start, stopping all 34 shots he faced against the Buffalo Sabres. Was calm, confident and the team responded well to a last-minute change in goal. Exactly what you need from your backup goaltender.
Defensemen
Trevor Daley
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Had his best game of the season --  by far -- against the Sabres. If Daley can find a way to continue to contribute on offense, then perhaps the lack of defense won't stand out as much.
Mark Fistric
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217737/down.png Fistric had a good game against Buffalo, but so far he's fallen well short of expectations. Perhaps it's confidence, but Fistric has regressed from the physical defensemen we watched last season.
Nicklas Grossman
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Grossman is having a heck of a season, yet there's still room for improvement. The Stars biggest defenseman -- after putting up eight hits against Nashville -- has just seven hits total in the past three games. Know who has more hits in the same span? Matt Niskanen.
Matt Niskanen
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png I know he has just one assist this season. I know he has problems with the breakout pass. Yet he had five hits against Buffalo and six against Los Angeles and he's improving nearly every game that is played and he's actually becoming physical. That's all you can ask for.
Stephane Robidas
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Robidas is just doing what he's always done; play physical, make great plays on defense, provide offensive support and (aside from a bad boarding call) not take any bad penalties. Still, you'd like to see Robidas set a beter example offensively for the rest of the defense.
Karlis Skrastins
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217737/down.png Skrastins has struggled at times this season and the shotblocking defenseman we loved last year has not shown up as big this time around.
Jeff Woywitka
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Appeared in two games and didn't do much in either. He didn't make any glaring mistakes, either.
Forwards
Jamie Benn
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Benn rebounded from sub-par performances against the Kings and Ducks (going pointless and a combined minus-4) to have a near-dominating performance against the Sabres. Now playing with Ribeiro and Morrow on the second line, Benn looks much more comfortable and playmaker-y.
Krys Barch
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217737/down.png Someone tell me what his role on this team is, besides "very nutritional and in-shape example for younger players" guy. Five games - 2 PIM, 1 SOG, minus-1.
Fabian Brunnstrom
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217737/down.png Was re-signed over the summer, had an okay training camp and never found the ice again. Sent down to the AHL, where he has two goals and three points in eight games.
Adam Burish
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png His energy and talent have helped stabilize a floundering penalty kill. Yet aside from one fight, coming to the aid of Robidas, we've yet to see the "agitator" side of Burish. Perhaps that's not exactly a bad thing.
Loui Eriksson
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png After a blistering start, Loui has fallen off a bit and hast "just" three point in his last four games, with only one goal. As one of the top scoring forwards in the NHL, we expect more yet it's tough to say he's been having bad games.
Brenden Morrow
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png We started to see shadows of the 2009-2010 Morrow creeping up, yet an absolutely incredible performance against the Sabres proved just how important his leadership, production and attitude means to this team.
James Neal
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png One goal, nine shots on net, two hits and seven takeaways against Buffalo. Please, may we have some more?
Steve Ott
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Had two horrendously bad games against Anaheim (who he usually decimates) and Los Angeles, before showing off his speed and aggression once more against Buffalo. As Razor puts it, he's becoming this team's version of Guy Carbonneau with his prowess in the faceoff circle.
Toby Petersen
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Petersen is anchoring a solid fourth line that is routinely put on the ice to annoy the hell out of the top lines of the opponent. Nothing fancy, just hard work.
Mike Ribeiro
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png Ribeiro's perfect pass to James Neal on Saturday opened up the scoring against Buffalo, but he's been beyond frustrated the past three games. Missed a couple of open scoring chances and is minus-3 in his past four games.
Brad Richards
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png According to the standards he's set for himself, he and his top line are in a bit of a rut right now. Perhaps that's why, during the three game losing streak, the Stars struggled to score. This team needs Richards to be beyond special to succeed.
Brandon Segal
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217733/up.png Segal is showing up more and more for the Stars and is the main reason the Stars can roll out four lines as evenly as possible. It's no coincidence that in the Stars last two big wins (@Florida, Buffalo) Segal has over ten minutes of ice time.
Brian Sutherby
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png It's tough to justify giving Barch any ice time with Sutherby and Segal are playing well together on the fourth line. Sutherby is following the approach he always has: be physical, consistent and don't make any mistakes. He does it well.
Tom Wandell
http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/217757/dash.png I think it's safe to say that Wandell is still recovering from his knee injury. He says he's perfectly healthy, but we are still only seeing flashes of the Wandell from last season.
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