Dallas Stars Monday Links: John Klingberg’s “Breakout” Season

What many outsiders will view as a breakout season is just the logical next step for John Klingberg. Plus the Stars take on the Hurricanes tonight, Dave Strader will be honored today with the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award, and some updates on good ol’ Team USA.

While Erik Karlsson might have the edge in PPG, John Klingberg enters tonight’s game with 18 points in just 16 games, leading all defensemen in the league. Those who don’t follow the Dallas Stars closely might be surprised by that, but in the eyes of the team and its fans, Klingberg is just taking the expected next steps in elevating his game.

"Klinger, you can see the confidence is growing," forward Jason Spezza said. "When you're an offensive guy like him, confidence is really important. The more confidence you have, it seems like almost the smarter you play ... and you just wait for the game to come to you. He's playing a lot of big minutes and he's showing a lot of poise, and he's really anchored things back there.

Of course points aren’t everything (even if it’s what might get you Norris votes), but it’s not as if Klingberg is ignoring his defensive responsibilities. Rather the star defensemen is trying to focus on improving his play on both halves of the rink:

Klingberg has made it his goal to be a strong all-around defenseman, and the new coaching staff led by Hitchcock and assistant coach Rick Wilson has helped him make that transition this season. Klingberg is playing in all situations, including killing penalties and shutting down the final minute of periods and games.

...

"He's a smart player, and he's using that to his advantage," Wilson said. "He's understanding that if he has the puck, then that's good defense, too."

You can read more in Mike Heika’s piece here.


More Stars News

The Stars face off against the Carolina Hurricanes tonight. Here’s Mark Stepneski with the official game preview: [NHL]

The good news is Tyler Pitlick should be back in the lineup. The bad news is that Marc Methot will be out at least two more games. [Wrong Side of the Red Line]

Like their NHL counterpart, the Texas Stars’ last game also featured 5 goals for one team. Unfortunately they weren’t the ones scoring them.

Dave Strader will be honored posthumously today with the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award. Here’s what many of his former colleagues have to say about the broadcaster: [NHL]


Around the League

It’s a long read, but it’s a very good one: here’s a look at the career of former Dallas Star draft pick James Neal. [Sportsnet]

While many pegged the Stars to make the leap forward, there are several unexpected teams currently (almost) in the playoff picture. But should we actually expect to see them come mid-April? [FanRag Sports]

I admit it: I started chanting “USA! USA!” out loud when I saw this tweet:

When I saw this one? Not so much?

The Chicago Blackhawks led the New Jersey Devils 4-1 with three minutes left in the first last night. They ended up losing the game 7-5. [Second City Hockey]

Speaking of high-scoring affairs, Ryan Lambert takes a close look at the league-wide increase in scoring, which isn’t simply a case of “more penalties.” [Yahoo Sports]

Paul Kariya opened up about hockey and surfing with Scott Morrison in advance of his Hall of Fame induction tonight:

On that note, Paul Kariya took the ice for the first time in 7 years yesterday, where he was able to catch up with former teammate Teemu Selanne. [NHL]

Former hockey player James McEwan thinks it’s time to get fighting out of hockey, starting with the junior leagues. [CBC News]

Is it too early to decide who won the Matt Duchene trade triangle? Yes, but that doesn’t mean we can’t check up on him and Kyle Turris:

Wayne Gretzky seems to be a fan of 2017 first overall pick Nico Hischier, and who could blame him? [Sportsnet]


However...

I’m still more than happy with the guy the Stars managed to snag at number three:

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