Coach Ruff talked about a reboot this week, he also spoke rather candidly about the limitations on what he can do to drag the Dallas Stars out of the muck and mire. To me, the most important points were about leadership from the on-ice group. There are only so many line combinations to try, so many call-ups to make, and so many tactical adjustments. At some point, it's up to the individual players: Play Better. It's a simplistic view, but sometimes that's the best way to look at a problem.
In honor of that, we're throwing out the #fancystats this week. PD-no, Cor-see-you-later, Fen-what? This week we'll look at the most basic on-ice performance indicators. It's all gut feeling, boys and girls.
Ales Hemsky (3 GP / 1 G / 5 SOG) - Points! Quietly effective since Thanksgiving, Hemsky has climbed all the way to 7 points (2 G / 5 A) after a terrible start.
Vern Fiddler (3 GP / 4 H / 11:03 SHTOI) - Drew a penalty that very nearly got Dallas untracked against Toronto, drew another in Detroit. Fiddler keeps winning faceoffs and puck battles. I admit I wondered, in the off-season, what kind of role he might play this year for Dallas. The answer: a freaking big one.
Colton Sceviour (2 GP / 1 G / 4 SOG) - Scored what was, at the time, a confidence-restoring goal against the Detroit Red Wings. He sure looked more active offensively. If he's back (finally) from pre-season shoulder troubles and can claim a top 6 spot on the roster, he might become an important catalyst for the Stars.
Shawn Horcoff (3 GP / 1 A / Even) - An "A for effort" kind of week. Horcoff keeps the motor running. The Stars could use more of that these days.
Cody Eakin (3 GP / +2 / 50% FOW) - Six points in his last seven games. Sometimes he's part of the Seguin unit, other times he's riding shotgun with Jason Spezza, still others he's back between his Pit bulls. Somehow he's managed to be valuable no matter where Ruff has skated him.
Antoine Roussel (3 GP / 3 SOG / 9 PIM) - Until Detroit, Roussel was actually having a fairly tidy week. Then, he got tagged for three goals against. I actually like the Frenchman's game at the moment. He's doing everything the Stars ask, and avoiding dumb penalties.
John Klingberg (3 GP / +3 / 1 A) - Wobbled a bit as Ruff shuffled his defensive deck, but he's still a huge positive for the Stars. Razor is, of course, spot on with his Year 1 Matt Niskanen comparisons, but I always wind up with night terrors thinking about Year 2 Matt Niskanen.
Erik Cole (3 GP / 1 A / 8 H) - Fought his way back onto the top line this week. His downhill-style of skating is an asset for the Stars. If only he could find the finish on some of his grade-a chances.
Alex Goligoski (3 GP / 2 A / 7 Blks) - Playing effective and playing hurt. A brief stint mentoring young Klingberg must have felt like an oasis given his defensive partners the rest of this season. Goose matches up against the other team's top lines. Not only did he avoid a minus (even for the week), but he also only took a single minor penalty.
Jyrki Jokipakka (3 GP / 2 A / Even) – Originally in the ‘Down’ section because I couldn’t remember him contributing much. Then I saw he played more than 18 minutes against both Toronto and Detroit (18:40), and then I remembered his job is to not be noticed. Yes, there are still growing pains, but there’s also still promise
Ryan Garbutt (2 GP / 2 PIM / 5:04 TOI vs. Det) - Are we sure last season's beloved dynamo hasn't been replaced, Manchurian Candidate-style, by his evil twin Brian Garbutt? A foolish suspension and a bad penalty undo any goodwill won by his goal against the Leafs. Right now, Garbutt is hurting the team more than he's helping it.
Anders Lindback (1 GP / 5 GA / .894 Sv%) - Certainly the victim of poor defensive play, but it's equally fair to say Lindback failed to win the trust of his teammates. We'll see if a stint with the Texas Stars can get his game going.
Jussi Rynnas (1 GP / 5 GA / .828 Sv%) - Called up, then promptly let in the exact same goal that got his predecessor sent down. Not the start the Stars needed.
Kari Lehtonen (1 GP / 5 GA / .875 Sv%) - A natural hat trick for Stars goaltenders. Lehtonen has been every bit as important as Stars fans expected so far this season, just not in the way those same fans had hoped.
Trevor Daley (3 GP / -5 / 7 Blks) - Toxic right now. It seems like Daley has lost the balance between aggression and caution that made him so dangerous to start the season. Even when he scores he doesn't score.
Tyler Seguin (3 GP / 1 G / 1 A) - An infrequent resident in the 'Down' section. Seguin drops after a pair of anonymous outings (Toronto and Detroit). Still the league's leading scorer, but a desperate Stars squad needs him to be a difference maker every night.
Jamie Benn (3 GP / 1 A / 8 SOG) - Two goals in his last 18 games. The effort is still there, but right now, he's captain of a floundering team. Welcome to the "Cornerstone Player" club, kid, pick up your heightened expectations at the door.
Jordie Benn (3 GP / 7 H / -4) - Big bro Benn is still trying to do a bit too much with the puck on his stick. A pretty assist in Detroit shows how effective Jo. Benn can be when he makes good reads, but plays like that one have been the exception this season far more than the rule.
Jason Spezza (3 GP / 2 Pts / Dallas PP: 13.64%) - Goals like the one he scored against Toronto explain why coaches (and fans) would love to see the big center shoot more. A moribund power play dooms Jason this week.
Jason Demers (3 GP / 1 A / -5) - A game-winner in his Dallas debut can't quite mask a rough start. Stars fans have to be hoping greater familiarity with his new team will iron out some of the kinks in his game.
Jamie Oleksiak (1 GP / 1 A / +1) - He is getting better, but that's different than being good right now. Still, this down reflects two games in the press box more than anything I’ve seen on the ice. Are we sure he’s not a better option than Jordie Benn at this point?
Curtis McKenzie (0 GP) - Called up after a successful stint with the Texas Stars. Hopefully, his time on the junior circuit will serve as a confidence booster. Dallas needs something.
Travis Moen (0 G / 0 A / 0 PIMS) - A spot on the roster, right now. It feels like the Stars are still figuring out where he fits.
On the Shelf