Now that the Dallas Stars are working their way up the Central Division standings, hockey journalists are starting to notice John Klingberg. And as more of them speculate on whether the Ghost of Gothenburg should be named among the NHL’s best defenders, it’s becoming almost fashionable to write pieces about his chances at the Norris Trophy.
Steadily – with all deliberate speed, as it were – Klingberg is working his way into the discussion. James O’Brien of NBC Sports is the latest to pick up the drumbeat:
After collecting three assists in the Stars’ 7-1 Saturday squash of the Sabres, Klingberg now has a whopping 46 points in just 48 games. As of this writing, Klingberg leads all defensemen by 10 points. If he maintains that margin for the remainder of the 2017-18 season, it will be tough to deny Klingberg the first Norris Trophy in Stars history.
Klingberg’s 46 points tie him with Jamie Benn for the team points lead, and place him in a multi-player tie for 18th overall in the NHL.
O’Brien seems quite comfortable writing Klingberg into discussion of some of the most easily confirmed defensive talents currently playing – and one former NHL’er whom Stars fans tend to mention only in whispers:
His all-around game is impressive. You can see strong possession stats at a glance at Hockey Reference, and with just 14 penalty minutes so far, he’s not hurting his team with bad discipline. While he’s not a primary penalty killer for Dallas, there’s some trust in that area, as he’s averaging 1:18 PK time per contest.
Maybe you’d lean more toward [Drew] Doughty, Brent Burns, P.K. Subban or [Erik] Karlsson – it’s a dynamic and deep field this year – but Klingberg deserves consideration, and he’s already drawing favorable comparisons to beloved Stars blueliner Sergei Zubov (without the in-game smoking breaks, one would assume).
There’s more at the Peacock Network’s homepage. [NBC Sports]
The Stars are back in Dallas, and they’re practicing today:
Stars practice Monday at 10:30 a.m. in Frisco— Mark Stepneski (@StarsInsideEdge) January 21, 2018
The road trip ended up as a depth-scoring showcase, and Mike Heika writes about how important it is that the trend continues.
Scott Burnside catches up with Stanley Cup winner and fan fave Richard Matvichuk in his second year as head coach of the WHL’s Prince George Cougars.
He was selected No. 8 overall in 1991 by the Minnesota North Stars and was part of the 1999 Dallas Stars team that won the Cup. See what Richard Matvichuk is up to now. https://t.co/0IWUOyLNIU— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) January 21, 2018
Even though that two-point gap has spread to five since Saturday, you really need this GIF of Tyler Seguin.
Around the League(s)
Last Night’s #Kill
There’s plenty more Central Division action on tap tonight:
- Colorado Avalanche at Toronto Maple Leafs, 6 p.m. Central time
- Minnesota Wild vs. Ottawa Senators, 7 p.m. Central time
- Chicago Blackhawks vs. Tampa Bay Lightning, 7:30 p.m. Central time
The Vegas Golden Knights sit alone at the top of the NHL standings with a 5-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Former Star James Neal potted another highlight-reel goal – with his back to the net, yet.
One reason the Montreal Canadiens have struggled so mightily this season: Star goalie Carey Price was suffering from chronic fatigue even before his injury in November.
Sam McCaig ranks the NHL’s 31 starting goalies – find out where Ben Bishop lands. [The Hockey News]
Also at THN: Forward Liam Kirk wants to be the first player born and trained in the United Kingdom to make it to the NHL. His inclusion on the Central Scouting Bureau’s limited-viewing list could be a big step toward that goal.
Liam Kirk won't find his name among the top draft prospects, but the UK-born-and-trained forward is turning some heads in North America, writes @THNKenCampbell https://t.co/0XzXX40bg5 pic.twitter.com/z6bc3H5mxE— The Hockey News (@TheHockeyNews) January 21, 2018
And speaking of Central Scouting, their Midterm Rankings for the 2018 NHL Draft in Dallas are due today.
The U.S. College Hockey Organization will now allow college hockey players to have agents if they were drafted prior to their full-time enrollment.
Proposal passes to allow for college hockey players to have agent representation https://t.co/YWvTZHuhgh— USCHO.com (@USCHO) January 19, 2018
The Winter Olympics without the NHL will be “wide open” for any number of teams, writes the AP’s Stephen Whyno, who talked with Canada GM and former Texas Stars head coach Willie Desjardins for this article. [Puck Daddy]
“If we ever had a ‘Win one for the Gipper’ moment, this is it”: Team USA will gun for Winter Olympics gold to honor GM Jim Johannson, who died yesterday at age 53.
Unheralded U.S. hockey team will now try to capture a gold medal in honor of Jim Johannson, the general manager who died unexpectedly on Sunday @SWhyno https://t.co/qgTdjZOrOE pic.twitter.com/BUCFHSF3VL— AP Sports (@AP_Sports) January 22, 2018
The official announcement from USA Hockey:
We are devastated to announce that USA Hockey's Jim Johannson passed away early this morning. Our heartfelt condolences go out to his entire family. JJ will be greatly missed, but always remembered for his immensely positive impact both on & off the ice. https://t.co/dOHdw6WjwP pic.twitter.com/lJcHMAuEjY— USA Hockey (@usahockey) January 21, 2018
The NWHL names players to the 2018 All-Star team live on Twitter today at 7:30 p.m.
NWHL action for the weekend has ended, but Team Ott and Team Lev are making their picks for All-Star Weekend in Minnesota tomorrow at 8:30 pm ET. You will not want to miss the NWHL All-Star Draft, Live on Twitter.— NWHL (@NWHL) January 22, 2018
Who would you select? pic.twitter.com/cy4v41OVz4
Greetings From Scenic Cedar Park
ICYMI, the Texas Stars swept their back-to-back against the Manitoba Moose with a 5-1 win on Saturday that included two Jason Dickinson goals. The victory moved the team into second place in the Pacific Division. [100 Degree Hockey]
Mike McKenna's 38 saves in net, and Jason Dickinson's two goals, led the way for the #txstars as they swept their two-game weekend in Manitoba with a 5-1 win.— Texas Stars (@TexasStars) January 21, 2018
Read: https://t.co/TnTNMMCYHe pic.twitter.com/tXFayJo3L1
Let’s step outside the world of hockey and remember that the City of Philadelphia felt compelled to use vegetable shortening in a way that probably voids the money-back guarantee, thanks to Eagles fans. Enjoy.