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Dallas Stars Roster Watch: Kari Lehtonen, Tyler Seguin Lead Pack of Improving Players

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The Stars finally busted out this week, and have won two in a row heading into the weekend. Surely that means we'll see some familiar faces in the Up column. Maybe... and don't call me Shirley.

Debutante John Klingberg highlights this week's Up list, but who joins him?
Debutante John Klingberg highlights this week's Up list, but who joins him?
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

It’s funny, sometimes, how a slump gets busted. The Dallas Stars lost seven in a row despite great efforts against the likes of Anaheim and St. Louis. Then, they showed up a full period late against the Coyotes, coughed up another third period lead, and sauntered out of the building with a win. Of course the Stars would follow up their narrow escape with a superb, complete-game effort against the Los Angeles Kings.

Obviously chastened by last week’s trip to Downsville, a number of Stars snuck out of the doghouse this week. None more so than goaltender Kari Lehtonen. Just ask Jarret Stoll about the week Kari had.

Up

Kari Lehtonen (2 GP / 2 Wins / .953 SV%) – Stellar. Lehtonen kept the Stars afloat in the first against Arizona, held together late, and absolutely stifled the poor Kings.

Jamie Benn (3 GP / 0 G / 11 SOG) – I’m trying to use the same mojo on Jamie I used to help linemate Tyler Seguin out of his slump. Effort, shots, creativity, it’s all there for the captain, we’re just waiting on the results. He stays up because he was a big part of busting the slump, and beating LA (his assist on Spezza’s goal was superb).

Erik Cole (3 GP / 1 G / 9 SOG) – Cole made a difference this week. The goal was well deserved, and I especially love the fact he threw 10 hits in addition to the other stats I listed.

Patrick Eaves (3 GP / 1 A / 8 Blks) – Eaves played nearly 15 minutes against Arizona and was a factor on Seguin’s first goal. The only downside to his week was an injury sustained against the Kings. Here’s hoping the steady forward is back sooner rather than later.

Vern Fiddler (3 GP / 60% FOW / 2:50 avg SH TOI) – The PK stepped up this week. Part of that was goaltending, but the fact Fiddler is scorching hot on the dot (73% against LA) also played a part.

Ryan Garbutt (3 GP / 2 G / 2 PIMs) – By far Garbutt’s best stretch of the young season. He’s been aggressive, abrasive, and productive. Eight shots on goal against the Kings was a tremendous cap to a strong week.

Shawn Horcoff (3 GP / 1 A / 8 SOG) – Another guy that’s been flat out good over the past week. Horcoff is playing in every situation, winning most of his faceoffs, chipping in offensively, and giving Lindy Ruff 13:46 a night of quality play.

Antoine Roussel (3 GP / 2 A / 18:54 ATOI) – Lacks the stats and shots of fellow Pitbull Garbutt, but Roussel’s improved play over the past week is just as important to Dallas’ burgeoning resurgence. Roussel even secured himself a move to the first power play unit.

Tyler Seguin (3 GP / 5 G / 12 SOG) – Hey, look, regression! Aside from an ugly night on the dot against Arizona, Seguin was his typical all-world self last week. Another hat-trick, ho-hum.

Jason Spezza (3 GP / 1 G / 2 A) – Yes there were some adventurous passes, and no, lock-down defense still isn’t on the menu. Despite all of that, Spezza was a point-a-game player last week, and got a huge goal against the Kings. Upsie Daisy.

Jordie Benn (3 GP / 9.16 Fenwick Relative / +1) - #Fancystats and #Oldschool tell us the elder Benn played better this past week. Maybe he and erstwhile partner Brenden Dillon just needed a break.

Trevor Daley (3 GP / 0 Pts / 1 SOG) – The offense has dried up a bit for Daley, but 8 blocks in the past 3 games tell us he’s still a factor in his own end. The underlying numbers make me nervous (44.1% Corsi, 45.9% Fenwick), but he’s playing tough minutes and keeping the puck out of his own net. Isn’t that all that really matters?

Alex Goligoski (3 GP / 0 Pts / 6 Blks) – The Goose is a straight-up gamer (24:56 ATOI this season). We should absolutely read into the fact that Ruff trusted him as John Klingberg’s partner.

John Klingberg (2 GP / 21:00 ATOI / Shoots: Rt) – The kid can play! Klingberg logged 18:31 in his NHL debut and helped the Stars break a seven game winless skid. Then, he played 23:46 as the Stars shutout the defending Stanley Cup champs. The poise is evident, as is his skill.

Down

Anders Lindback (1 GP / 4 GA / .857 SV%) – Not the answer for Dallas right now. With so much at stake, I wonder if a get-healthy stint in the AHL would help.

Ales Hemsky (2 GP / 0 Pts / 11:43 ATOI) – The portrait of an offensive winger struggling with his confidence. Hopefully a much-needed break Thursday night helps Hemsky reset.

Curtis McKenzie (3 GP / 5 SOG / 0 Pts) – So this one is a little unfair. Watch the games, and McKenzie is starting to pop up more and more. He’s also getting a few more shots off, so maybe the production is coming. That said, he’s a guy many hoped would challenge for top six minutes, he’s point-less and playing under 10 minutes a night.

Colton Sceviour (3 GP / 1 A / 6 SOG) – Sometimes these rankings are about the player, sometimes they’re about me. Sceviour was fine last week, which is a perfectly alright thing for him to be. Still, I can’t help but think there’s more to his game. Is it the shoulder injury? Is it diminished ice time? Is there even an answer to that question?

Kevin Connauton (1 GP / 1 A / 9:55 TOI) – Robert joked on our podcast (PLUG!) that Dallas could get rid of Goligski, Daley and Dillon, and Connauton would still find his way into the press box. But doctor… I am Pagliachi.

Brenden Dillon (3 GP / 5 Blks / Even) – Sometimes, I don’t know what I know, you know? I thought Dillon looked good against the Kings, shades of the guy Dallas loved last season, but the game in Glendale was a struggle. Hopefully this’ll be the last week he spends in this space.

Jamie Oleksiak (2 GP / 3 Hits / 2 Blks) – Missed out on the fun versus San Jose, but was back in the lineup for the road trip. Mostly. The Big Rig has looked better, but still wound up stapled to the bench when the chips were down in LA (8:46 TOI). Sometimes progress is one step backwards, that was this week.

In Between

Cody Eakin (1 GP / 38% FOW / 16:38 TOI) – It was great seeing him back in the lineup against LA after a three game absence. Rust was evident on the faceoff dot, but the critical stat here was Cody’s TOI.

On the Shelf

Travis Moen – Moen has yet to suit up for his new team.

Val Nichushkin – Back on the IR with a pesky groin/hip complaint.

Patrick Nemeth – Done for the year with a lacerated arm