To an outsider, Alex Goligoski had a pretty darn good season. After a disastrous campaign the year before that saw the burgeoning Stars fail to make the dance, the team recommitted to defense, promising to buckle down and stop handing out three Free Goals with Purchase of Any Concession Item coupons to visiting teams. (It was great for hot dog sales, though.)
The result? Goligoski played all 82 games* in the regular season for the first time in his Dallas career, and the Stars managed to get their goals-against back down to sort-of-middling range (19th). The Stars did good things, and Goligoski did not get scratched for a game. Progress!
*Trivia: Goligoski played 83 regular season games in 2010-11, which is either the most or the least Goligoski statistic ever
Because we are not outsiders, however, Alex Goligoski is going to continue being a rather divisive figure. While Goligoski ended up having an unequivocally better season than, say, Brent Seabrook, he still managed to have a few iconic mishaps that reinforced his reputation as a player capable of greatness but prone to boondoggles at the worst possible times. (Note: there are very few not-worst times for boondoggles. Like that idiot Secretary of State's decision a while ago, for example.)
Still, we are not grading Goligoski's propensities or re-signability; we are grading his season. Let us all look upon the works of #33 and rejoice, or despair. I mean, really, no one's changing anyone's mind about Goose at this point, right? That's what I thought. Well, thanks for coming. Click on all the ads and retweet everything we say on Twitter, please.
Anyway, here's what I'm going to do: make a clear case for why you should vote for each grade in the poll below (spoiler: there is a poll below). Please read each thoughtful argument and vote for whichever you think is best. I am now explaining how polls work, so it is time to move on.
Case for A
In the playoffs, Goligoski's four goals (more like Goaligoski!) were only one shy of Spezza and Benn for the team lead. For perspective, that would equate to a 25-goal season. Goligoski had very little power play time as well, so those goals are all of the even-strength variety, baby. Goligoski was also a partner who helped Klingberg thrive again, as the duo would put up outstanding numbers in shot production (and tops in the playoffs) despite being asked to start in the defensive zone far more than any other pair.
Case for B
Goligoski led Stars skaters* in ice time (more like GoGoGoligoski!) throughout the season again, earning and keeping the trust of the coaches for a 2nd-overall finish. Despite heavy defensive zone starts, he didn't get overwhelmed, outperformed others on the team. His shot attempt and scoring chance differential (both regular and High-Danger) in the playoffs was fabulous. You want a player to raise his game when it matters most? That certainly seems to be what Goligoski did.
*Kris Russell actually had a higher average over his 11 RS games, though. That may not have been optimal.
Case for C
Goligoski was not elite on his own, but then again, he's really not expected to be (more like GoligOKski!). He was the best 2D the Stars had, and he did good things and bad things. The bad things weren't bad enough to cancel out the good, and while the Stars leaned on him less for power play production and overall offense during the season, he still had the third-most shorthanded TOI among the defense on the PK--a PK unit that finished 10th overall. It didn't really feel like that sort of a unit outside of the great run later in the season, but numbers don't lie, as they are not living things capable of intentional deception, unlike all of our collective exes.
Case for D
Goligoski surrendered far too many of the high-danger (more like GoligOHNOski!) variety of scoring chances (2nd-most per 60 minutes of any defenseman in the regular season, per WOI). As good as he was in some areas, a lot of that was perhaps more due to playing next to John Klingberg than to his individual aptitude. He was unable to do much for the 2nd power play, and there's this lingering sense that while the Stars don't have anyone ready to take his minutes right now, Goligoski didn't exactly earn a lucrative extension either. Also, Corsi is stupid.
Case for F
Some needlessly risky plays (more like Golichokeski! More like Goalagainski! More like GoliGAHski! More like GoligoskiddingoutofcontrolintoatreetoosoonRIPpaulwalkerwhenIseeyouagain!) led to ugly goals against, not the least of which came in Game 5 against Minnesota on a coughed-up puck to Mikael Granlund. More than that, his high-risk style begat groan-worthy nicknames that we had to read all year long, and I'm beginning to wonder if they've seeped into my consciousness for good. Eh, probably not. Also, he failed to grow four inches taller as fans repeatedly requested.
Seriously though, Goligoski surrendered a metric ton of high-danger chances against. The fact that he still had a positive high-danger differential is either a testament to how cranked-up the Stars' offense is, or to how risky a game Goligoski--by way of the Stars' system--plays. I wrote more words about the F case, but that's mainly because of hyperbolic rambling. Vote objectively or else I will delete the poll. I am watching you.