By Martin Iheke
This past week, your Dallas Stars made not only news on the ice but off of it as well. When you have lost seven in a row, you are bound to make some changes to the roster. That is what General Manager Jim Nill did last Tuesday when he traded defenseman Sergei Gonchar to the Montreal Canadiens for Travis Moen. This move was done for two reasons. Provide salary relief for the franchise and give some of the younger players a chance to get more playing time. One of them is John Klingberg, who was called up from Cedar Park last Monday to play. He ranked second among AHL defenseman with 12 points in ten games according dallasnews.com. More importantly, he is a right-handed defenseman which is something the Stars lack on their roster. “We’ve talked about it,” Stars head coach Lindy Ruff said according to dallasnews.com. “It’s tough when you get squeezed up that wall. Overall, it’s a situation that when we get squeezed that direction it really hurts us,” as he continued.
The Stars are hoping with him in the lineup that those issues can be somewhat resolved. In his first NHL game last Tuesday night at the Arizona Coyotes, Klingberg was impressive. He was a +1 with a blocked shot and three takeaways in 18 minutes of action in a 4-3 win that snapped the team’s seven-game losing streak. Stars forward Ryan Garbutt scored the game-winning goal, shorthanded. “I was just trying to hold on to it and make sure I cleared it,” Garbutt said according to NHL.com. “I didn’t really have anyone come to me, so I chipped it to myself and just skated as fast as I could,” as he continued. The Stars traveled to Los Angeles two nights later to take on the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings as they were looking to win two in a row. Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen was absolutely terrific in this game stopping all 27 shots including robbing Kings forward Jared Stoll late in the 2nd period which you can view here in a 2-0 win. “It’s one of those things that maybe one out of 50 times you’re able to get it,” Lehtonen said according to NHL.com. “It sure felt good and was happy about it, but there’s not much to do with goaltending when you’re just scrambling and he ends up hitting the glove. But I have to be happy about it,” as he continued.
Unfortunately, the Stars could not extend their winning streak to three as they would lose again at home to the Minnesota Wild, 2-1, last Saturday afternoon. The third period bit the Stars again as they would give up another goal in the third period thanks to a blown coverage defensively. After the game, Stars captain Jaime Benn did not offer a lot of words to say. “I got no excuses,” he said. “I think half of it is hoping it and half of it is wanting it. It’s got to be a 100% getting the job done,” as he continued. The news became is even worse for the Stars as forward Valeri Nichushkin will need hip surgery and will miss four months. Since the start of training camp, Nichushkin had been bothered by soreness to it so the Stars decided to go ahead and have him get surgery. “We had it diagnosed, and decided surgery is the best thing,” Jim Nill said according to dallasnews.com. “It’s very similar to what (John) Klingberg had, and we expect it to have similar results,” as he continued.
Klingberg did have a similar injury and was able to correct it by having surgery in the summer. It turned out well for Klingberg as he is already up with the big club and looks to be the best defenseman on the team by far. He collected his first NHL point in a 6-2 loss at the Chicago Blackhawks last Sunday evening. He and the Stars are looking to bounce back from a two-game skid and fix their issues at home when they open up a five-game homestand starting with the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night. The Arizona Coyotes will be here on Thursday night then the Los Angeles Kings will be back here on Saturday night. Also, before that game the Stars are honoring Mike Modano again because of his induction to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
11/18 vs Hurricanes 7:30 pm
11/20 vs Coyotes 7:30 pm
11/22 vs Kings 7:00 pm