If all Stephen Johns had done this season was make it back to full health, Dallas Stars fans would have had reason to celebrate. Instead, he made it back to the NHL, back to the top four, and back to being one of the Stars’ key players.
The big defender made his seven-week season count in big and little ways. Saad Yousuf takes stock in The Athletic’s latest roster-review piece:
Johns’ season is an unqualified success. While that may have held true just by his mere presence on the ice, Johns quickly developed into a difference-maker for the Stars. He fortified the second defensive pairing, actualizing the top four that the Stars organization was excited about in 2018 along with Esa Lindell, John Klingberg and Miro Heiskanen. His return to hockey was the Stars’ big trade deadline acquisition....
All in all, if this is it for the NHL regular season, Johns scored a couple of goals, had three assists, 50 hits and 20 blocks in 17 games. His average time on ice was 17:40, right around where it’s been his entire NHL career.
And Johns is on a trajectory to do even more in the future:
Most importantly, though, Johns was on a path of steady improvement. While his season is a feel-good story overall, Johns was just playing hockey once again. Merely a few months ago, he was considered a bonus piece. Since then, he became an essential part of the Stars puzzle. He was somebody Dallas would depend on to make plays during a playoff run, and that will still be the case if the NHL season resumes. If not, Johns should finish this season with the Masterton Trophy and high hopes heading into next season.
You can read Johns’ full player review at the link. [The Athletic DFW]
How are NHL players dealing with the Long Pause? Jamie Benn joined other stars of the #MurderDeathKill Division on a video call, and there was so much chirp. [Dallas Stars]
“I think I ask (Wheeler) to fight every game we play.” - @jamiebenn14— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) April 1, 2020
“There was one game I think we faced-off against each other like 20 times, he asked me to fight 20 times.” - Blake Wheeler #GoStars pic.twitter.com/Zf42AWxPhK
NHL.com’s Pause Binge playlist is a gift. And it keeps on giving with today’s post.
And Mike Heika has an update on Jeff K’s creative fund-raising campaign for the Dallas Stars Foundation.
Around The League(s)
The Minnesota Wild will not hire a new head coach before next season.
If Pekka Rinne doesn’t win this whole enchilada, you know it’s rigged. You know it.
Here's a breakdown of the matchups you'll be voting on: pic.twitter.com/nYsbYKJuYD— Hockey Night in Canada (@hockeynight) April 1, 2020
Many professional players have no financial safety net during the COVID-19 stoppage. Here’s how the ECHL is trying to take care of its own.
Greetings From Scenic Cedar Park
The Texas Stars capped off a Twitter tribute to captain Dillon Heatherington with this video from the man himself.
A message from our captain. Have a good night! pic.twitter.com/baa8BDaU1o— Texas Stars (@TexasStars) April 1, 2020
Gritty who? Austin Metro’s favorite trash panda has progressed from painting to cooking in his efforts to entertain fans and stave off cabin fever.
My Masterpiece..— Ringo the Ringtail (@TXStarsRingo) April 1, 2020
The SUPER CONVENIENT "Breakfast in Bed Smoothie!" pic.twitter.com/8hfNdI7TUz
Because there’s never an overdose of this guy. Enjoy.