Like a wine stain on a wedding gown, the Stars’ defense still has many fans seeing red. While general manager Jim Nill put some zing in his second line and added an admirable project at backup goalie this week, he didn’t touch the defense. That’s right, nothing. And haven’t you been hearing for the last four years that the blueline is where this team needs the most attention? But Nill said he has a plan, and it’s to trust the kids. His changes will come in the form of Jamie Oleksiak, Patrik Nemeth, John Klingberg, Jyrki Jokipakka and Cameron Gaunce. Nill is betting that at least two of those youngsters will take a step forward, and that the remaining defensemen will be as good or better than last season. “I’m excited about our defense,” Nill said. “We’ve got three or four young kids that are knocking on the door from the Calder Cup championship down in Texas. We think we’ve got lots of different options. We know they’re all going to get better. We think we’re going to be just fine.” Part of the reason for that is the fact Nill and coach Lindy Ruff saw impressive improvement from Alex Goligoski and Trevor Daley as last season progressed. The two Stars veterans have struggled at different times in their careers. Goligoski had a rough start when partnered with Sergei Gonchar last season. Daley has battled to find the right line of offensive aggression in his career. But something clicked around midseason. “I think when those two started playing together and started playing big minutes, they formed a chemistry and just took off,” said Nill. “You look at the end of last season and you look in the playoffs, and I thought they were exceptional.” Goligoski was a huge key to the team’s turnaround. He started the season with no points and went minus-10 in the first eight games while averaging under 20 minutes of ice time. He finished the season with a 13-game stretch where he had nine points and went plus-14 while averaging more than 25 minutes a game. “I think we all had to get comfortable with one another, and I think if you look at those two at the end of the season, they were comfortable,” coach Lindy Ruff said. “They learned what to expect from us, and we learned how to use them better.” Goligoski’s biggest problem in Dallas has been a lack of confidence. When he makes mistakes, he starts to question his game. But with Ruff preaching an attacking style, mistakes are almost expected. If you’re going to push the pace, you’re going to make turnovers. Ruff simply asks that when you do, you hustle back and recover. That fit perfectly for Goligoski and brought out more of the skill game from Daley, who was drafted as a speedy defenseman but was turned into a conservative one.
Stars will do nothing on defense this summer; Jim Nill says it's all part of his plan
Dallas Morning News | Jul 6