Morning Skate: Gulutzan Scratches Goligoski and Moves Larsen Back Into the Blue Line Rotation [Updated]

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Heika and Andrew Stepneski both confirm curious benching from Glen Gulutzan

Whoa.

That's probably the collective reaction from all Stars fans on the news that coach Glen Gulutzan will scratch defenseman Alex Goligoski in favor of Philip Larsen. Also, Aaron Rome is back in the lineup after Jordie Benn was sent back to Cedar Park yesterday.

As a result of the moves, your defensive pairings, per Mike Heika on Twitter, will look like this tonight in Edmonton:

Dillon-Robidas
Rome-Daley
Oleksiak-Larsen

The forward lines will remain unchanged from how Monday's game in Colorado ended.

Morrow-Benn-Jagr
Eriksson-Roy-Ryder
Smith-Eakin-Vincour
Nystrom-Fiddler-Roussel

Considering the puzzling nature of this scratch, I went to the stats to see if there's anything that jumps out. Because based on what I've seen from Goligoski's play, he's hardly been the worst defenseman on the ice.

Per Behindthenet, he has logged more 5on5 ice time than any other Stars' defenseman with a 16.77 TOI/60. Matt Reitz from View From my Seats speculated in a Twitter convo with me that his turnovers are a reason. It's true that with Jordie Benn's departure, Goligoski is now the Stars' active leader in giveaways with 5 on the season FWIW.

My point of contention with this move is that there's a huge dropoff in offensive production between Goligoski and Larsen (3.94 CorsiOn vs -16.25). And as Erin Bolen has documented, Larsen's been one of the worst offenders when it comes to taking penalties. If you scroll all the over to the right on the BTN link, you can just see just how much of a penalty taking disparity Larsen's been credited with compared to the Stars' other defenseman.

Short term, it's a head scratcher. But if Larsen can take advantage of this second chance and Goligoski takes this as a wakeup call, it could pay dividends for Gulutzan and the Stars down the road.

Update

Mike Heika talked to Gulutzan and Goligoski about the decision and came up with some pretty interesting quotes.

“Alex needs to get back to Alex’s level. It’s pretty cut and dried,’’ Gulutzan said.

Goligoski said he understands he has been struggling and has had a talk with the coaches about the decision to scratch him.

“They want more, and I want more. I understand that,” he said.

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