Once again it's that time of year here on Defending Big D where we take a look at each player that suited up for 25 or more games this season (and are still with the team) and take a look back at their season. What was good about it, what wasn't so good, and the lasting impression they left us as we go into summer.
#38 / Center / Dallas Stars
May 09, 1980
|2011 - Vernon Fiddler||82||8||13||21||-13||60||0||0||1||123|
Key Stat: 163:49 - The total short handed time on ice Vernon Fiddler had in the season, the most amongst Dallas Stars' forwards. He averaged almost two minutes (1:59) of penalty killing time per game and was on the Stars first penalty kill unit.
The Good: Along with Michael Ryder and Loui Eriksson, Fiddler played in all 82 games for the Stars this season. Considering his penchant for laying down the body to block shots (he led all forwards with 67 blocked shots on the season) and his large amount of penalty killing time each game, it's surprising to see his body hold up so well for the whole season. There were times in games where he would take a big stinging slapshot and fans were convinced he would miss time due to injury. But each time, he came back and played his hard working style every game. At this point, I'm not wholly unconvinced he's not made of a certain amount of rubber.
The biggest impact Fiddler was supposed to have on the Stars this season was as a third line checking center and good faceoff man. He definitely did improve the overall faceoffs of the team, averaging out at 50.9% on the season of faceoffs won. That was good for second on the team behind Steve Ott, and many of his draws were big defensive zone draws.
The Bad: For a third line checking center, Fiddler was often overexposed defensively and ended the season with one of the worst plus/minuses on the team (joined by his linemates Eric Nystrom and Radek Dvorak.) It's hard to tell how much of this is due to Fiddler's individual play versus the play of his linemates, although when the lines were shuffled due to injuries he didn't seem to get caught out of position as much. However, this was the one line consistently together the most throughout the year, and they were torched quite a bit on goals against.
Also, since Fiddler was such a large part of the penalty kill, when his play suffered, so did the Stars PK percentage. He and Dvorak had several large breakaway shorthanded chances, and Fiddler could not convert on any of them. It would be nice to see those chances capitalized on when they get them.
The Bottom Line: Fiddler was just as advertised - a third line checking center that would bring faceoff help to the Stars. The fact that his scoring was lower than his last two seasons is most likely a product of Nystrom's cooling off in the second half of the season. His strong penalty killing should help the Stars continue to improve there next season, and any scoring on top of that is just gravy when it comes to Fiddler.
The Vote: Rate Fiddler below on a scale of A to F (A being the best of course) based on his performance relative to his potential and your expectations for the season he was here. Vote after the jump.