Brenden Dillon's rookie campaign has included some much needed secondary scoring - Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
What was thought to be a bit of a series of head scratching moves involving the Stars' forward lines has instead resulted in a spike in secondary scoring to create a more balanced attack.
But In the past two weeks, the Stars overall GF/60 has risen from a paltry 1.97 to a 2.44. While the return of Jamie Benn has helped the offense (4 G, 6 A, 10 Pts), the Stars have also benefited from a more balanced scoring attack ever since head coach Glen Gulutzan swung for the fences with a massive line shake up 12 days ago before the Stars took on the Colorado Avalanche.
How much have they benefited?
Well, I decided to select a handful of Stars that would fall into the category of secondary scorers. That is, guys you wouldn't expect to produce along the same lines as a Top 6 forward or a talented blue liner.
Here's what I found:
Ryan Garbutt made his mark early in his NHL career by scoring his first NHL goal at Montreal in his third career game almost a year ago on February 21, 2012. Unfortunately for the speedy fourth liner, he was stuck on one goal until the season finale against St. Louis on April 7th.
This season, the Winnipeg native was scratched for the first four games of the season. Injuries to Jaromir Jagr and Derek Roy necessitated his insertion into the lineup against St. Louis a little over three weeks ago and he immediately responded by scoring a goal that night.
Since then, he's been able to stick in the lineup mostly because he's one of the few forwards in this group of secondary scorers that doesn't have horrible Fenwick and Corsi numbers. But his recent goal scoring splurge has him tops on the Stars for G/60 at even strength with a 1.80.
Brenden Dillon's certainly had a memorable week, starting off with his trick shot snap shot off in Edmonton that went off the glass and then went in off the back of Oilers' netminder Devan Dubnyk. Whatever you want to call it, it was a timely goal early in the second to get the Stars back into a game they were being dominated in.
Friday night, he was on the business end of a game winning goal in a homecoming for the Surrey native courtesy of his fellow British Columbian, Jamie Benn.
On the year, Dillon's been pretty solid overall. He's logged 258 minutes of ice time and has appeared in all 16 games. And according to Hockey Analysis, he's been the Stars most effective blue liner during 5on5 play.
Another player who has yet to dent the twine this season but has contributed to some timely goals recently is Vernon Fiddler. During this swing through Western Canada, Fiddler assisted on three goals, including the go ahead goal by Eric Nystrom against Edmonton and the Ryan Garbutt goal that salted the game away late.
Fiddler's certainly had his struggles defensively with a Fenwick percentage of just 41%, however.
And speaking of Eric Nystrom...
Nystrom, who got off to a hot start last season, was stuck on just one goal until the Western Canadian road swing.
Then he scored the eventual game winner in Edmonton Tuesday night and followed that up with the first goal of the night for the Stars in Calgary the next night.
I'm sure the Stars would welcome any and all scoring from any secondary scorer. But if Kari Lehtonen is out for any significant amount of time, Nystrom's hot streak (if this is what it is), would be most welcome.
I included Morrow in this group of "secondary scorers" because it was anticipated that he'd be a 3rd or 4th line grinder that wouldn't be expected to produce at the same level of offense in year's past.
As Brenden Morrow's chart shows, you could make the argument that nobody has benefited more from the line shuffling than the captain. Morrow, and the entire fourth line, had such a slow start that some fans were wondering if Morrow was completely done.
Morrow dismissed those concerns verbally a few weeks ago. And ever since he was put on the top line with Jamie Benn and Jaromir Jagr before the 10th game of the season at Colorado, he's more than tripled his point production and quadrupled his season goal total.
I've seen some Stars fans compare Roussel's game to that of Steve Ott. It's certainly a fair comparison to Ott in terms of energy and desire to stir things up. As well as frame and build (Ott's listed at 6'0", 190 lbs while Roussel's an inch shorter at 192 lbs.)
But I'm not sure we should expect Roussel to contribute as much on offense long term as he has the past few weeks. Professionally, Roussel had only scored a total of five goals in 103 games prior to this season. And unlike Ott, who was selected by the Stars with the 25th selection in the first round of the 2000 Entry Draft, Roussel went undrafted. I'd also say that Ott was already pegged back then to
That doesn't mean Roussel won't have a chance to stick with the club this season on the fourth line. If he keeps driving the net and scoring goals, Glen Gulutzan won't have a choice but to keep him in the lineup. But think of him more as a Brian Sutherby type.
That's the offensive takeaway from all this. Overall, however, there's still a ton of room for improvement. Out of the three goal scorers for the Stars, Roussel is the only forward who wound up in plus territory on Fenwick and Corsi. Not to mention that if the pairing of Goligoski-Larsen have bad games like last night, you'll need more than the lower lines to chip in a few goals to overcome.