What do the Stars need right now? "Points" is probably the right answer as there is a distinct relationship between how many points a team gains and whether or not that team's season is considered a success. In fact, you could say it's kind of a direct relationship. I know I would say that, so you probably should as well.
Players, though, that's what I meant. What is the one "type" of player the Stars need to add in order to really bring their collective quality up to the point where they can spar with the big boys? Well, yeah, an elite goalie is also the right answer here, but that's not what I mean either. (Why did I phrase this as a question when I keep having to interrupt myself with the technically correct answer instead of what I want to bring up?) We all know that an amazing goalie can make even the Florida Panthers look like at least a Boston-ish team for a little while, and heck, Carey Price can often make Montreal look like an actually good team a lot of the time. So that is also, yeah, important.
Anyway, a so-called Top Pairing Defensive Defenseman is what the Stars seem to need most, according to many people I have heard from and/or whose writings I have read. And sure, the idea seems sound: the Stars are not good at defense, or goal-prevention, or not surrendering tons of goals most of the time, for whatever reason this year. So yeah, one of those mythical shut-down players like Ryan Suter (is alleged to be) who can play half the game and make it extremely tough for the other team to score seems to be a great potential add for Dallas. And that's not wrong in one sense, because adding Ryan Suter will help any team. If only it were that simple.
Alas, the Stars' issues with goal-gifting might not be all because of the defense, and they are usually shooting the puck more than the other team. Separate from that whole discussion is a notion that I've seen all over the place about how the great offensive players need to be complemented by a shut-down guy playing next to them. But what if an offensive pairing like Alex Goligoski and John Klingberg is actually pretty good at defense as well as offense? In fact, what if Lindy Ruff is exceptionally pleased with Klingberg's defense (our focus here) aside from the fact that ol' Klingman is breathing down Ekblad's neck for the rookie defensemen scoring title this year? That hypothetical question has become a reality, because guess what: Klingberg is actually good at defense, too:
A onetime forward who was moved to defense, the smooth skating Swede took his time getting to North America. After switching back and forth from the Swedish Elite League to the Finnish Elite League over a span of three years, Klingberg had the chance to come to North America and play in the AHL last season. He chose to go back to Sweden for one more year, and said he is sure now it was the right decision.
"I wasn’t ready," said Klingberg. "My defense wasn’t ready at all."
He seems ready now. After a year with Frolunda in Sweden, hip surgery in the summer, and a brief stint with Texas of the AHL to start this season, Klingberg is becoming a solid NHLer.
When it was brought up in Canada that the Stars are being patient with the defensive mistakes because of Klingberg’s offensive upside, Ruff rushed to the defense of his young defenseman.
"I’m telling you right now, his defensive game has been pretty impressive," Ruff said with a sort of defiant pride. "His compete for a young man down low is more than I thought it would be. His decision-making has been really good." [DMN]
As always, Heika has plenty more worthwhile stuff in that piece, so you'll want to give the whole thing a gander on this Mondayest of Monday mornings.
I get the whole idea that one wants a huge and nasty crease-clearer to make us feel cozy and secure. That's not absurd, especially when we watch Trevor Daley get outmuscled in front of the net by a hulking forward. But defense isn't only about size, as players like Lidstrom and Zubov showed; and those sorts of players often benefit from a greater percentage of offensive-zone starts (which is the smart thing to do with such creative defenders). Klingberg, by the way, has actually started more shifts in the defensive zone than the offensive zone so far this season and still rocking a solid 52.7% Corsi.
Speaking of Zubie and Lidstrom, they were also (until the end of their careers) quite capable in their own zones, too. The fact that Klingberg, despite our eyeball bias about his size and weight, is developing a solid defensive reputation even with the occasional rookie growing pain is magical. He may not be big, and he may not be 2010 Zdeno Chara; but John Klingberg is a really good defenseman already, and his defense is only going to get better.
His offense is just fine already:
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Super Bowls would be more fun if the field were an actual bowl instead of a gridiron. The closer you get to the end zone, the steeper the incline. If you agree, send your survey response with a SASE to that Roger guy in charge of all football rules. Marshall Faulk will reimburse you for postage, maybe.
Turns out Jim Nill actually is aware that scoring four power play goals is a good thing to do. Mike Heika on the latest way Dallas is emulating dominant Detroit teams of years past...and now, too, come to think of it. [DMN]
No, really, John Klingberg is awesome. [THN]
With Erik Cole looking healthy, Brett Ritchie and Oleksiak have been assigned to Texas for the moment. [DMN]
Also from the Blues/Caps game, Kevin Shattenkirk had a tough time when he found himself within the proximity of Alex Ovechkin. [SportsNet Video]
Whiteboard Willie couldn't do the Stars a solid as his team fell to the suddenly-not-terrible Minnesota Wild yesterday. Because we all know Devan Dubnyk is going to lead Minnesota to a miraculous playoff berth when all is said and done. [Wild]
Cody Hodgson was once a rumored Stars target before they instead snagged a third-line winger from Boston in the summer of 2013. Hodgson has not been doing well this year, to put it mildly. [Hockey Writers]
Sometimes it's just nice to watch a family take joy in the success of their son's first NHL victory. And besides, winning a game for the Coyotes this year is practically a miracle, so the tears are warranted. [SportsNet Video]
Evgeni Nabokov is the latest formerly elite player to be put on waivers, and the feeling is that the NHL might not see him again. All the best, Nabby. [Pro Hockey Talk]
Steve Valiquette says shot quality needs to be a standardized metric. He votes for color-coding, which might have been what the Corsi crowd needed to do in order to gain earlier acceptance. "His Purple Percentage is a Super Crocodile 52!" "Say, that's a good Canadian hockey player right there, eh?" [THN]
Even Snoopy wouldn't drive a Zamboni under the influence of alcohol. [Info Forum]
Finally, Henrik Lundqvist took a nasty ">shot in the throat the other night, but he thankfully turned out to be none the worse for wear:
At least I saved it I'll prob stick to soup today, feel pretty good though. Thanks for all the well wishes! pic.twitter.com/2xTTHVkTUA— Henrik Lundqvist (@HLundqvist30) February 1, 2015