It seems like forever since John Klingberg has graced the ice. Ask the Dallas Stars, who certainly miss him more than you or I – because right now they don’t have a defender who can match his flair for making a smooth exit from his own zone.
The Dallas Morning News’ Matthew DeFranks went to the film room to see how the Stars are performing on breakouts during a disappointing West Coast road trip. The answers are not surprising to those who know Klingberg, like head coach Jim Montgomery:
“You can’t put poise in someone like he has, especially his ability to find the middle of the ice and bring one or two guys, wait until the last second and then the center has all day to skate it out. It’s definitely an area that we miss him, but it’s an area that we’ve been working on to get better.”
...“I think we are getting better at it,” Montgomery said. “We had a lot of clean entries with speed at the other end because of six or seven breakouts [against the Anaheim Ducks] that we broke out well out. But when it came to crunch time, we needed to make good plays. It’s more the lack of communication and poise of being together.”
Christmas will bring a couple of welcome gifts for Stars fans, as both Klingberg and Connor Carrick are expected to return from injury to shore up a tired and relatively inexperienced blueline corps. It will also be gut-check time for the team’s playoff chances:
They’ll be as close to full-strength as they’ve been since October, and are hoping avoid a big hole to climb out of. AHL recalls Joel Hanley, Taylor Fedun and Gavin Bayreuther have performed well, and Thursday’s loss was hardly on them. But each loss -- and each losing streak -- chips away at whatever cushion the Stars were building with a season-high four-game win streak just last week.
They entered the road trip three points up on a playoff spot. Five days later, they are two points behind Edmonton and Vegas.
Matt has more. [SportsDayDFW]
Sean Shapiro has a full breakdown on last night’s 3-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks.
Stars 20/20: Despite improved overall effort, Sharks extend Stars' losing skid https://t.co/2xPsAB96gV— Sean Shapiro (@seanshapiro) December 14, 2018
Monty had a few words about the “honest effort” the team put in:
Win or lose, Miro Heiskanen is a gift that keeps on giving.
I’ll just leave this here.
Around The League(s)
A View To A #Kill
- The Nashville Predators held off a charge from the Vancouver Canucks, winning 4-3 on a Colton Sissons OT goal. [On The Forecheck]
- Nino Niederreiter scored twice and Ryan Suter racked up three assists as the Minnesota Wild trounced the Florida Panthers, 5-1. [NHL]
- And the Winnipeg Jets blew a two-goal lead but pulled out a 5-4 OT win over the Edmonton Oilers, thanks to a Josh Morrissey snipe. [NHL]
Alex Ovechkin finally gets some respect, but I’m pretty sure this is actual treason in Canada.
Rob Pizzo finally admits (reluctantly) that The Great 8 is the greatest goal-scorer of all time, and gives 9 reasons why. https://t.co/ult7uMqI69— Hockey Night in Canada (@hockeynight) December 14, 2018
NHL players are seeing lighter paychecks thanks to a rise in escrow tied to a projected drop in revenue. Do they blame Canada – or is the story more complicated?
Stars first-rounder Ty Dellandrea was among the players cut from Canada’s World Junior selection camp.
FIRST CUTS: Team Canada cuts forwards Raphael Lavoie and Ty Dellandrea, and defencemen Cameron Crotty and Calen Addison from World Junior selection camp. 30 players are left with final cuts expected on Friday evening. #WJC #TSNHockey https://t.co/pPHlsCRbnz pic.twitter.com/w49W0Nd0lh— SportsCentre (@SportsCentre) December 14, 2018
Greetings From Scenic Cedar Park
The #txstars kick off their 3 game road trip in Milwaukee tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m! You can follow along here, or tune-in!— Texas Stars (@TexasStars) December 14, 2018
: https://t.co/CH91nKxP5U pic.twitter.com/J5NdfUQP5X
Just a little reminder: Stars. And dogs. And the Dallas PD K-9 Unit. Gift-giving time. Enjoy.