When the Dallas Stars lost defenseman Stephane Robidas last week to a multiply fractured leg they lost a presence on the blue line much bigger than his diminutive frame would suggest. Many Dallas fans are excited to see Jamie Oleksiak and Kevin Connauton with the big clubs, but should be concerned with the way their veteran defensemen played Tuesday night against the Chicago Blackhawks.
I understand that it is going to be near impossible for the Stars to replace what Robidas brought to the team, on and off ice. However, this is the time for guys like Alex Goligoski, Trevor Daley, and Sergei Gonchar to step up and lead the blue line. Even playing against the Stanly Cup champions, allowing 50 shots against is unacceptable. That is a recipe for disaster in more situations than not, and if not for some incredible goaltending by Kari Lehtonen, the Stars could have been out of the game in the first period.
Goligoski had a rough game, getting caught deep on a few pinches, leading to odd man rushes going the other way. He also took a late penalty for a blatant cross check to the high back of Chicago captain Jonathan Toews. While he was held without a shot on goal, Goligoski did make a beautiful spin-o-rama move to set up a great scoring chance that ended up going wide early in the game. Daly only had one shot on goal and was beat on a few rushes back leading to huge saves from Lehtonen. Gonchar got only 1 shot and lost power play time to Ray Whitney who took over a point role on the man advantage.
On the season those three combine for a plus/minus rating of minus nine, with only Daly being even. The Stars need more from these three. They are combining to average just over four and a half shots on goal. These guys are not known for their shut down defense, but as offensive minded defenders. That is why they are here. Yet with the loss of Robidas, they are now having to take on a part of that defensive role, while still finding a way to generate more offense. Even more importantly, they need to set the example for the younger defensemen on the roster. The Stars have been fortunate to have Brenden Dillon, but should he really be the best defenseman on the Stars at this point in his career when they have one who’s played over 1,200 games and two more that have combined for almost 1,000?
The Stars defense has been rather generous since the loss of Robidas, both Tuesday at Chicago as well as Sunday at home against the Edmonton Oilers. If the Stars want to keep pace in the highly competitive Western Conference they need those three defensemen to start playing better.
As always, I welcome your comments. If you think I’m wrong, I’m willing to listen. Just back it up with some facts and solid evidence. Thanks for reading and good luck this season.
Read more from Dustin here.