Through the Dallas Stars' first 17 games of this season, Adam Pardy has laced 'em up for just eight of those contests. The 27-year-old defenseman was signed during free agency over the summer after spending his first three NHL seasons in Calgary. The Flames took him in the sixth round of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft and with the recent injury to Alex Goligoski, Pardy figures to have more ice time over the next few weeks.
At 6-foot-4, he brings good size to the Dallas blue line, so it seems only fitting that the other half of that defensive pairing is none other than Mark Fistric, no small fry himself at 6-2. Pardy and Fistric were first paired together in Saturday's loss at Detroit, the first game after Goligoski's injury and for the most part, they performed well.
The PardyFistric duo skated together again in Tuesday's 6-0 loss to the Florida Panthers at American Airlines Center, a loss where Pardy was on the ice for half of the visitor's six goals in the game.
Despite having their struggles, something that can be said about the whole team to be fair, against the Panthers, both members of this pairing feel like this is a tandem that has worked and that will continue to improve going forward.
"It's a pretty simple game we both play. It's just about being physical, making simple plays and trying not to spend too much time in our defensive zone," Pardy said. "We're going to be playing simple, playing smart, making sure we take care of our own end and playing physical."
Fistric also chimed in on his new defensive partner on the ice. "He's a solid guy that makes a good first pass out of the zone. He's responsible," Fistric said. "He's a big guy and can skate really good."
And even though Pardy hasn't played a ton thus far with the Stars, Dallas head coach Glen Gulutzan sees plenty to like in the Newfoundland native.
"He's got some offense. He's got a two-way game," Gulutzan said. "We want him to play that two-way game but always defend first. He's going to be a welcome guy back there. He has the versatility to play right and left, which is nice. He's going to bring the size, a great stick. He can move and do some things. I know he's going to be a good guy for us for the next two or three weeks."
It shouldn't be surprising that Gully is a big fan of Pardy since the two do have a bit of a history together. It was back in the 2005-06 season when Big Adam played half a season for Gulutzan in Las Vegas of the East Coast Hockey League. In Pardy's lone season playing for the Thunder, they made the playoffs and Gulutzan was named ECHL Coach of the Year.
Like his teammates, the gritty blue liner doesn't ever want to see any of his fellow Stars injured, but he's always ready to answer the call from Gully whenever he needs someone to step up in place of an injured fellow d-man, something he calls a bit bittersweet.
"It's definitely an opportunity. After sitting out a few games, it's nice to get back in. It's not exactly the way you want to get back in," Pardy said. "We're going to miss Goose a lot here, especially on the PP and getting pucks out of our zone. It's not the way I want to get in but it is an opportunity to get in, get rolling, get more games under my belt and move forward."
But Pardy isn't the only option Gulutzan has at his disposal to put alongside Fistric as the Stars' No. 3 defensive pairing. No, he can also plug in a player he knows pretty well in 21-year-old Denmark native Philip Larsen, who skated for Gully with the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League in each of the last two seasons.
To date, Larsen has 11 games of NHL playing experience and it's clear he's considered a future component of the Dallas defense going forward. Larsen isn't scheduled to play on Friday at Colorado but could see some ice time on Saturday, when the Stars return home to host Pacific Division rival San Jose.
"I think Philip's ready to play in the NHL," Gulutzan said. "He is a way better defender than you think he is. He competes. He's hard. He's attentive to details. He can close on guys quick with that speed and has got a good stick. The next step in his progression is to play in the NHL. He's going to get a chance at some point."
While losing Goligoski is a huge blow, one silver lining for Stars fans could be the chance to watch either Pardy or Larsen or possibly both emerge as viable options for Gulutzan in the back.