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Dallas Stars Daily Links: Shaking Up The Stars’ Defense

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The Victory Green Gang have built their identity on the blueline. Can it hold steady? Plus, a look back at the NHL’s biggest upsets, an elite goalie cage match in the East, and more.

Colorado Avalanche v Dallas Stars Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images

The most worrying part of Tuesday night’s Dallas Stars game probably wasn’t their 3-2 loss to the Calgary Flames. It was Stephen Johns leaving the ice early and being declared “unfit to play.”

If Johns is absent from the defensive corps for any length of time, it means a shake-up on the Stars’ blueline. The Athletic’s Saad Yousuf has devoted his latest article to an examination of what that might look like, starting with veteran presence Andrej Sekera:

On Tuesday, Sekera was visibly exposed. The eye test showed he was struggling. The stats, including a team-worst 30.56 CorsiFor at even strength, backed it up. This was part of a larger trend: Sekera hasn’t played particularly well throughout the Stars’ stay in Edmonton thus far....

In addition to Sekera’s struggling performance and Johns’ questionable availability, the Stars are about to enter a daunting stretch in the schedule. Game 2 and Game 3 come in a Thursday-Friday back-to-back, and Game 4 is an afternoon start on Sunday. That’s three playoff hockey games in a span of 63 hours. All of these factors combined to create a situation where depth among the blueliners will be tested. While Game 2 already feels like a must-win for the Stars, [interim head coach Rick] Bowness will be tasked with balancing that alongside how to deploy his defensemen over the weekend as well.

So who can realistically step up? Yousuf looks at options ranging from veteran to rookie:

Taylor Fedun will be ready to go if Johns can’t. Perhaps that’s the simple one-for-one tradeoff that happens for Game 2. But if Sekera continues to struggle the way he did in Game 1, Bowness may need to dig deeper in trying to pull at out all the stops. How long Johns’ injury lingers — if it does at all — is unknown, but if Fedun is already in the lineup for Johns, what are the remaining options on the depth chart to potentially spell Sekera?

The loudest answer among Stars fans might be Thomas Harley, but the Stars’ top prospect might be the last resort, for a multitude of reasons. Harley made his NHL debut in the round-robin and he was fine — not great, but not awful. The Stars coaching staff was careful not to over-expose him: Harley was replacing Klingberg in the lineup and still couldn’t earn a spot on the power play. So using him as a third-pair defenseman while Klingberg and Heiskanen are both available to quarterback the power play units would be limiting his impact. Factor in his defensive skills still being raw, and it’s not Dallas’ most productive option at this moment in time. But the biggest thing with Harley is the risk-reward factor. He celebrates his 19th birthday next week and is a key part of Dallas’ future. Could exposing him to playoff intensity against a team like Calgary before he’s ready shake his confidence and result in negative long-term ramifications? His potential makes him an enticing option, but perhaps not the smartest one for the current predicament.

There’s much more behind the paywall. [The Athletic DFW]


Stars Stuff

There was no update on Johns this morning – but based on what Owen Newkirk reported yesterday, we may see Ben Bishop again sooner rather than later.

Tyler Seguin is battling an injury – but he says he’s ready to battle the Flames, too.

Sean Shapiro gets down to cases in his latest piece.

And Razor and Heika break down Game 1 in the latest episode of Rinky Dinking.

Around The League(s)

#Death Notes

Nazem Kadri is hitting full stride at the perfect time for the Avs.

One of the Eastern Conference’s most interesting battles could come down to a cage match between Carey Price and Carter Hart. Put your money up.

The Detroit Red Wings show up early and often in Rob Pizzo’s list of great teams who blew big advantages in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Tampa Bay Lightning made that list with their performance in 2019. Here’s how they stepped up in that five-overtime death march on Tuesday.

Greetings From Beautiful Boise

The Idaho Steelheads are knees-deep in a different kind of postseason battle, and you – yeah, you – can help.

Finally

It’s going to be a late night. Anton Khudobin is ready. Enjoy.