2013 Season Review: Defensemen and Goalies

Alex Goligoski

I mentioned before the season started that this (half) year was going to the critical year in Goose’s Stars’ career. He had been getting a lot of grief (a lot) because of the trade that sent James Neal away. Out of all the players on the team, he was the one who was going to have to step up the most.

Four months later, I’d have to say that Goose stepped up and had an excellent season, one that would have been a career best if a full 82 had been played.

His 27 points on the year was tied for top 12 among defensemen in the league while his 24 assists had him tied with the top five. The power play wasn’t overly great, but when it was on, Goligoski was a huge reason why it worked.

He led the team with 11 assists on the power play and led the team in average TOI/G (yes, even more than Robidas). He was healthy this season (played 47 games) and was the team’s defensive leader in corsi (though it wasn’t that great).

Now, some of this can be attributed to Goligoski playing most of his defensive time against the second lines of opposing teams while Robidas and Dillon took the first lines. Even so, Goose was still second on the team in average TOI/G on even strength. Defensively, he still had his lapses and struggled in coverage at times.

He was consistent throughout the season on offense, scoring seven, nine and then eight points in the last three months of the year. His production would have been even better if he had shot at a better percentage.

His 3.8 shooting percentage was the worst of his career, a full four points lower than his usual average (though it would only translate to about three more goals this year).

This was a fine season for Goligoski. I just hope people can just look rationally at what he’s done and realize that he’s become an excellent weapon on the team.

2013 Prediction: 44 GP, 4 goals, 17 assists, 21 points, +2 rating, 6 PIM

2013 Actual Stats: 47 GP, 3 goals, 24 assists, 27 points, +4 rating, 18 PIM

Ancillary stats of note: 22:23 ATOI/G (team leader), 18:03 ES ATOI/G (2nd on team), 2:53 PP TOI/G (4th on team, defense leader), 56 hits, 66 blocked shots, 80 shots, 11 PPA (team leader)


Stephane Robidas

Robidas was his usual Robidas self. He played first pair for most of the season with Brenden Dillon this year and was once again an ironman, playing in all 48 games.

He played the toughest minutes out of any defensemen on the team and was always up against the top lines of opposing team. The trouble was, that really showed on a lot of nights.

Robidas had a tough year defensively. He was burned a lot, got caught in coverage a bunch and struggled to clear the net in front of Lehtonen. I’m sure he would have had even more difficulties if he had not been playing with Brenden Dillon.

I’m sure most people expected him to be gone by the trade deadline, but, surprisingly, he stuck around while other veterans were sent packing.

Offensively, he actually had an alright year, chalking up one goal and 12 assists to be the No. 2 defenseman on the team in points. The offense isn’t what’s important about Robidas though, it’s his deteriorating defensive prowess.

Poor Stephane Robidas. One of the toughest players the Stars have ever had just can’t quite keep up anymore. He plays a ton of minutes (always top three on the team) and gets overexposed on the ice. There were countless times last season where he got burned and put Lehtonen in bad spots.

Robi is on contract for one more season with Dallas in what in all likelihood is his final season in a Stars uniform. The 36-year-old has been a warrior for the Stars throughout his career, but he just can’t handle the tough minutes anymore.

2013 Prediction: 40 GP, 2 goals, 11 assists, 13 points, -4 rating, 22 PIM

2013 Actual Stats: 48 GP, 1 goal, 12 assists, 13 points, +2 rating, 56 PIM

Ancillary stats of note: 1,067:27 TOI (team leader), 3:06 SH TOI/G (team leader), 22:14 ATOI/G (2nd on team), 136 hits (team leader), 93 blocked shots (team leader)


Brenden Dillon

I think everyone knew that Dillon was going to be a good player. I just don’t think anyone could have imagined that Dillon would have this good of a rookie season.

Dillon started out the year playing second and third pair but quickly found himself playing first-pair minutes just two weeks into the season. By the third week of the season, Dillon was well on his way to averaging 22 minutes a night.

Not much was expected of him offensively, so the three goals and eight points on the year were nice surprises. His total of three goals could have easily been higher. He had 75 shots on goal which was fifth-most on the team and had a very low 4.0 shooting percentage.

The offense was all a bonus though because Dillon was the Stars best defensemen. He played, along with Robidas, the toughest minutes on the team and, unlike Robidas, Dillon came out of it with a positive corsi.

Dillon actually led the team in even strength TOI/G and was third in short-handed time per game. He was a big hitter and was solid technically. He was also healthy and was one of five guys to play all 48 games.

By the time a month had passed by, Dillon had pretty much become the most reliable guy on defense. Dillon is one of the best finds the Stars have had in year, and the 22-year-old has a very bright future with the team.

2013 Prediction: 38 GP, 0 goals, 2 assists, 2 points, +1 rating, 16 PIM

2013 Actual Stats: 48 GP, 3 goals, 5 assists, 8 points, +1 rating, 65 PIM

Ancillary stats of note: 18:23 ES TOI/G (team leader), 133 hits (2nd on team), 74 blocked shots (2nd on team), 1026:14 TOI (3rd on team)


Trevor Daley

It was an okay year for Trevor Daley. He’s been a lock for around 20 points a year during his career with Dallas, and he was heading toward that mark again.

Defensively, he was just sort of there. You didn’t hear his name a whole lot, which doesn’t necessarily mean bad things for a defenseman, but he was just invisible at times.

It might have been a product of being paired with Goligoski on most nights and all of the attention being thrown in Goose’s direction. The only problem was that Daley had a miserable corsi and often in scramble mode around his own net.

The year also was a bit weird for Daley.

Now, by weird, I mean that he might have scored as many goals against the Stars as he did against opponents. Deflected pucks seem to love Daley, and a good number of them bounced off of him and into the Stars net this season. The poor guy is a magnet for own goals.

Daley is one of the guys who’s locked-in here for a while, so that second-pair defenseman spot will be his for the foreseeable future.

2013 Prediction: 48 GP, 2 goals, 14 assists, 16 points, +1 rating, 28 PIM

2013 Actual Stats: 44 GP, 4 goals, 9 assists, 13 points, +1 rating, 14 PIM

Ancillary stats of note: 69 hits, 2:35 SH TOI/G (2nd on team), 2:11 PP TOI/G (2nd among defensemen on team)


Philip Larsen

Larsen took a big step backward this season with his play. He had a huge struggle out on the ice and became a regular healthy scratch as a result.

He was horrid defensively, often getting burned and pyloned by the opposing forwards. It’s been a hugely disappointing year for young Larsen, especially since he seemed to be playing well overseas during the lockout.

The third pair of defensemen was often a liability on the ice. Whether that was on Larsen or his partner (Rome, Benn, Oleksiak) is debatable, but whatever the case, that third pair was cringe-worthy every time it stepped out onto the ice.

2013 Prediction: 40 GP, 2 goals, 6 assists, 8 points, +6 rating, 6 PIM

2013 Actual Stats: 32 GP, 2 goals, 3 assists, 5 points, -10 rating, 18 PIM


Aaron Rome

There’s not too much else to say other than that Rome was bad, really bad, oh-no-he’s-on-the-ice-again bad.

2013 Prediction: 40 GP, 0 goals, 1 assist, 1 point, -2 rating, 36 PIM

2013 Actual Stats: 27 GP, 0 goals, 5 assists, 5 points, -2 rating, 18 PIM


Jordie Benn

I thought Jordie would be pretty good as a depth defenseman who would fill in wherever he was needed.

While note as bad as Rome, Benn was also one of those guys who just made you throw your hands up in exasperation.

Benn is a UFA this offseason, and with all of the young talent in the organization of defense now, I’m not sure if he’ll get another contract.

2013 Prediction: 36 GP, 0 goals, 2 assists, 2 points, +2 rating, 12 PIM

2013 Actual Stats: 26 GP, 1 goal, 5 assists, 6 points, -4 rating, 10 PIM


Jamie Oleksiak

I wasn’t expecting Oleksiak to get much time (if any) with Dallas this season, so the call-up and string of games with him here was a surprise.

Overall, he was okay. The fact that he was a rookie showed as was out of position a bunch and struggled in coverage.

His ability with his stick and skating did impress though, and he’s pretty solid in clearing the net. He does need to work on his shooting accuracy though as I can’t remember many times when his blast from the point actually forced a save.

2013 Stats: 16 GP, 0 goals, 2 assists, 2 points, -5 rating, 14 PIM


Kari Lehtonen

There’s really not too much to be said about Lehtonen. He was the MVP of the team, the only reason why they were even in the playoff hunt and the most overworked man on the team.

He’d face 35+ shots a night, many of the point-blank fashion or right in front of the net and he made save-of-the-year highlights probably five different times during the season.

Everyone knows just how important he is. Unfortunately, his yearly groin issues popped up again, and he missed a good chunk of games. He started to break down again at the end of the season and struggled a little bit.

2013 Prediction: 42 GP, 23 W, 17 L, 2 OTL, 2 SO, 2.37 GAA, .918 SV%

2013 Actual Stats: 36 GP, 15 W, 14 L, 3 OTL, 1 SO, 2.66 GAA, .916 SV%


Richard Bachman

Bachman played more games than expected as a result of Lehtonen’s injury and did an admirable job. He didn’t quite do as well as last season, but he threw in some pretty solid games.

His best games of the season came in a stretch in April. In that three game stretch. Bachman came on in relief of Lehtonen and stopped 79 of 82 shots. His play gave some hope that the Stars could make the playoffs, but it just didn’t happen.

Bachman is a RFA this offseason, and I fully expect him to be back in a backup role.

2013 Prediction: 6 GP, 3 W, 2 L, 0 OTL, 0 SO, 2.92 GAA, .903 SV%

2013 Actual Stats: 13 GP, 6 W, 5 L, 0 OTL, 0 SO, 3.25 GAA, .885 SV%


Cristopher Nilstorp

Nilstorp made his NHL debut this year and was probably thrust into more games than he expected to play. His very first game of the year was a solid 31-save effort in a 1-0 loss to Minnesota.

However, he struggled in three of his other four starts, giving up four or more goals in each of them. His one win of the year came against the San Jose Sharks, another 31-save effort in a 3-1 win.

Maybe it’s just something about facing 32 shots that makes Nilstorp solid.

2013 Prediction: 2 GP, 0 W, 1 L, 0 OTL, 0 SO, 4.00 GAA, .877 SV%

2013 Actual Stats: 5 GP, 1 W, 3 L, 1 OTL, 0 SO, 3.09 GAA, .897 SV%