Alex Goligoski got Lindy Ruff‘s message when he scratched him in favor of rookie Kevin Connauton. Now, the Dallas Stars are reaping the benefits.
Goligoski’s play before the Stars’ game against the Calgary Flames on Oct. 24 had been downright abysmal, as he scored no points and registered a -10 plus/minus, the NHL‘s worst plus/minus rating at the time. When a player does not register a point and accumulates a plus/minus rating of -10, it raises some eyebrows.
In the Stars’ eighth game of the season, Goligoski was on the ice for three Anaheim Ducks goals during 5-on-5 play. After that game, opponents had scored eight goals on the Stars when Goligoski was on the ice during 5-on-5. Conversely, during 5-on-5 play, the Stars did not score a single goal with Goligoski on the ice. He needed to hit the reset button.
Since Ruff benched Goligoski, he has raised his league-worst plus/minus rating from -10 to -2 over a stretch of 10 games going back to the Stars’ game on Oct. 26 against the Winnipeg Jets. Goligoski has also scored two goals and assisted on four others in that stretch. Against the Flames on Nov. 14, Goligoski was on the ice for four Stars goals during 5-on-5, and he assisted three of them. Over their last 10 games, the Stars have scored eight goals during 5-on-5 play, and surrendered only one when Goligoski was on the ice, a stark contrast from how the season began.
What exactly have Goligoski and the Stars done to cause such a substantial improvement in goals for and a dramatic reduction in goals against? They have directed significantly more shots at opponents with Goligoski on the ice during 5-on-5 since the Stars benched him. For the first eight games of the season, the Stars’ 5-on-5 Corsi-For percentage (CF percentage) was 40.15 percent with Goligoski on the ice. In their last 10 games, the Stars’ 5-on-5 CF percentage is 54.26 percent with Goligoski on the ice. This significant increase in attempted shots has resulted in the Stars scoring more goals while allowing fewer.
Bottomline, Goligoski is making the Stars a much better team on the ice with his improved play. Instead of being a liability, Goligoski is being a difference maker.
Goligoski heard Ruff loud and clear.