Stars: Rejuvenated Defense Is Making A Difference


Whether it was through a free agency signing or a young player being brought up to the NHL, the Dallas Stars have revamped their defense and it’s paying off.

The 2014-15 season was one to forget for the Dallas Stars. Though they had two budding stars in Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, their defense struggled mightily and it ranked one of the worst in the NHL, giving up an average of 3.13 goals per game.

The Stars had struggled with defense in the past but it was so frustrating last season because of the potential that the team contained after gaining forward Jason Spezza in an offseason trade. However, though the struggles continued throughout the season, the Stars made a few moves that would set up their future.

In early November, the team began calling up players like Patrik Nemeth, Jyrki Jokipakka, Jamie Oleksiak and John Klingberg. This group of players had been playing on the Texas Stars of the AHL, the Dallas Stars’ top affiliate. As soon as the youth movement made it’s way into Dallas, with Klingberg leading the way, older players like Sergei Gonchar and Kevin Connauton were ushered out.

Just a few weeks after that, the Stars traded fan-favorite and upcoming defenseman, Brenden Dillon, to the Sharks for Jason Demers. Though it wasn’t a flashy move at the time, Demers was just another piece of the puzzle. Then, back in the summer of 2015, the Stars were able to sign veteran defenseman Johnny Oduya to a two-year deal.

The Stars’ defense was still not expected to be great going into the 2015-16 season, but as the first few months went by, it was obvious that something was a little different about the team’s blue line.

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To start off, John Klingberg was moved to a permanent position on the top line with Alex Goligoski and he has transformed into one of the best defensemen in the NHL today. His goal scoring is just as explosive as his playmaking ability and he has formed a lethal 3-on-3 overtime team with Benn and Seguin. In fact, the only defenseman that has played better than Klingberg this season is Erik Karlsson, the winner of the 2014-15 Norris trophy.

Newcomer Johnny Oduya has formed a great pair with Jason Demers and the two players have been able to combine their experience to complete one of the Stars’ most reliable blue line options so far this season. Oduya’s Stanley Cup Final experience has been on display with his savvy plays in times of trouble and Demers is tied for the highest +/- on the team with a +13.

As for the third pairing, players like Oleksiak and Nemeth have gotten chances but the best option has been Jordie Benn and Jyrki Jokipakka. Benn has improved his game since last season when he was regarded as a weak link on the rebuilding line.

Together, these lines have been able to inject a new level of intensity into the Stars team, which is why their start has been so impressive. Though they may not have one of the better defenses in the league statistically, the Stars blue liners  pass the eye test and an electric offense covers up any mistakes.

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For the first time in quite a while, the Stars have an elite defenseman to play through in Klingberg, and with added touches of veteran leadership in Goligoski and Oduya, the Stars have the perfect blue line formula for a contending team in the Western Conference.