The Dallas Stars struggled early this season for a host of reasons, including the tremendously disappointing play of their top defensemen.
Alex Goligoski has no points in 10 games and a minus-10. His early season partner Sergei Gonchar has just one assist in nine game and a minus-4 rating.
So Stars coach Lindy Ruff broke them, probably for good.
“We’ve talked about having that pair together, and it just hasn’t been something that’s working,” Ruff told the Dallas Morning News.
Goligoski has been a solid producer for the Stars, scoring 103 points in 202 games since his arrival from Pittsburgh. Gonchar scored 64 points in 110 games during his last two seasons in Ottawa.
But both players have been a shell of their once-effective selves this season. Ruff moved Goligoski out of the lineup and paired Gonchar with rookie Kevin Connauton.
Those two players were plus-2 in their first game together.
“We’re going to get Goose back in, whether that’s tomorrow or the next game, but he’s going to go back in,” Ruff said. “I thought Kevin did an OK job in the game. For his first game, I thought he had some nerves early on, and I didn’t think he quite skated as well as I saw him skate in the pre-season, but I think you can package that all into the first game, and we’ll say you got it under your belt and we’ll go from here.”
What about Gonchar’s play?
“I think he’s getting better,” Ruff said . “You had moments where I wanted the puck to move quicker, but I thought his battle was better and, as a pair, they worked a little bit better.”