Lots of "welcome backs" to dish out this week. First, and most obviously, to the Stars themselves; the All Star break always feels like it lasts about a million years. Next, to Patrick Eaves. The valuable winger finally got himself healthy and into the lineup. I could also welcome THAT version of Jamie Benn. You’ll see below, but it was a very captain-like week. Finally, a hearty welcome back to the frustration and thrill that is the Dallas Stars’ 2014/2015 season. No lead is safe, no deficit insurmountable. When they’re labeling this year’s End-of-Season DVD, I’m voting for either "To the line, not out" or "Never Relax" as a slogan.
One small note, because we only had two games, and I hate small sample sizes, we’re going #oldschool this week.
Jamie Benn (2 GP / 3 G / 7 SOG) – The Captain has come out of winter break spitting hot fire. This week he flashed a bit of his trademark power (the goal against Montreal) as well as net drive/presence of mind (his first against Ottawa). This is the version of Jamie Benn that pulls Dallas into the playoffs.
Patrick Eaves (2 GP / 2 Pts / 8 SOG) – In his first action since December 2nd, Eaves slotted back onto the top line, and produced an immediate impact. Patrick played 18 minutes against the Canadiens and 15:24 against the Senators, so it’s clear the coaching staff is happy to have him back.
John Klingberg (2 GP / 1 G / 6 SOG) – Klingberg played 3:42 on Dallas’ largely ineffective power play unit in Montreal, then he dished out a beautiful assist to Jamie Benn and added an audacious goal in Ottawa. Those highs, whoa boy. Up in a big way this week.
Trevor Daley (1 GP / 1 G / 2A) – Back from a three game absence, Daley was productive for the Stars this past week. Like so many of his colleagues, Daley gets negative points for being on both the power play (3:58 PPTOI vs. Mon) and penalty kill (4:40 ASHTOI), but a big game in Ottawa balances the scales, so to speak.
Cody Eakin (2 GP / 53% FoW / 1 A) – After a quiet game against Montreal, Eakin exploded against the Sens. The assist was fun, but his contribution was much more about being 65% on the dot, throwing a pair of hits, and blocking a shot.
Vernon Fiddler (2 GP / 52% FoW / 2:58 ASHTOI) – Fiddler pumped five shots on Carey Price and zero against Robin Lehner. Guess which game included the assist? This week, Vern gave Dallas every bit of what he usually gives them, which is plenty for me.
Ales Hemksy (2 GP / 1 PPG / 13:46 ATOI) – It seems like the Dallas Stars are starting to figure out the riddle that is Ales Hemsky. He had a stable week in terms of his ice time. It was also a productive week on the scoresheet. Is it wrong to suggest maybe a little more than 2:13 on the power play against Montreal could have helped the team?
Travis Moen (2 GP / 4 H / 9:05 ATOI) – Below ten minutes each game and held off the scoresheet. Still, Moen found a way to impact the game physically. A good job done this week for the depth winger.
Colton Sceviour – (2 GP / 1 G / 9:29 ATOI) – Two points against Ottawa is great, until you note Sceviour only managed 8:41 for the entire game. A deft tip is going to keep him in the conversation, but there’s clearly still some kind of issue. The continued absence of Erik Cole should be a huge opportunity for Colton. Should be.
Alex Goligoski (2 GP / +2 / 6 SOG) – A sturdy week for Goose on the Dallas backline. Isn’t that the same as Horcoff, you might ask? Sure, but Goligoski played more than 22 minutes each night.
Kari Lehtonen (2 GP / 6 GA / .889 SV%) – The team in front of him certainly helped, but this week Lehtonen lost a game his team clearly controlled and saw a 3-0 lead collapse. Neither is the building block of a second half surge.
Ryan Garbutt (2 GP / 6 PIMs / 10 SOG) – I love to see the physicality (4 H) to go along with the volume shooting, but this felt like a week where Garbutt was poorly calibrated. In particular, I did not care for the timing or nature of his holding the stick penalty. These are the sorts of games that make me worry something silly might happen.
Jordie Benn (1 GP / -1 / 2 H) – Tagged out with Jamie Oleksiak against Ottawa. Is this the start of more of a time-share for the struggling blueliner, or just a one-off? Given the nature of the loss to Montreal, it’s hard to bury the guy, but them’s the breaks.
Jason Demers (2 GP / 6 H / 3:25 ASHTOI) – Demers played a big part on specialty teams this week, in particular, on the penalty kill. The fact that PK unit went 8/10 puts Demers in the down bucket this week (a 20% power play would place 10th in the NHL).
Jason Spezza (2 GP / 1 A / 2:26 APPTOI) – It’s not exactly fair (the unit did go 3/8), but Spezza is down this week as a result of the Stars’ power play. Opportunities like the one Montreal handed Dallas are rare and they have to count.
Tyler Seguin (2 GP / 0 G / 3 SOG) – A slow start so far for Seguin. Having five shots blocked against Montreal will hurt a guy’s totals, but three shots in two games is quite a bit off the pace for Mr. Seguin. It’ll get better.
Jamie Oleksiak (1 GP / 6 H / 3 Blk) – The seeming good is that Oleksiak survived demotion (Jyrki Jokipakka was optioned to Texas instead) this week. With that said, he sat against Montreal, and played just over 14 minutes against Ottawa. The funny thing about hits and blocks (his most notable contributions) is that the other team has to have the puck. This is a very important stretch for the Big Rig.
Anders Lindback (0 GP) – Wins by virtue of the way Kari is playing? Nah, the committee feels you have to be in the lineup to get credit.
Antoine Roussel (2 GP / 3 H / 2 SOG) – Roussel received 3:38 on the power play during Montreal’s penalty-fest. Perhaps the ineffectiveness of the unit that night is why he received no more time than you or I against Ottawa. I stand by my gut, Roussel has been good this season, but he gives off a "there’s more" vibe.
David Schlemko (2 GP / 13:55 ATOI / 5 H) – Used sparingly, but Schlemko was able to get in the lineup this week, and to stay there. The lack of actual production or time on either special team keeps him from being up, but this is progress.
Shawn Horcoff (2 GP / 2 H / 71% FoW) – Played a quiet 11:33 against Montreal, then a higher-than-usual 15:35 against Ottawa. Horcoff did not factor on the scoresheet, nor do three shots suggest he was buzzing. I just don’t feel like he was a big factor. He wasn’t bad, though.
On the Shelf