In last Saturday night’s 4-2 loss in Nashville, Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski
logged 31:54 of ice time, his third time in 15 games since joining Dallas right before the 2011 NHL trade deadline that he had played at least 30 minutes.
On Mar. 19 against Philadelphia, he played 32:07, but not even that ranks as the most minutes he’s ever logged in a regular-season game. That came on April 22, 2010 against Ottawa when the 25-year-old defenseman played 33:03 against the Sens.
With key blueliners like Nick Grossman and Karlis Skrastins on the shelf, it only makes sense that Goligoski will get more minutes until one or both of them returns.
“I don’t think that’s the idea, to play that much. It was a situation in the game where we were behind for the second part of the game. That’s how it goes sometimes,” Goligoski said. “Ideally, I’d like to be down around 25 but having an extended role has been great. I like to play a lot and I tend to play better when I play a lot. It’s been good so far.”
His head coach considers being able to call on him so much down the stretch a real luxury that any coach would be glad to have.
“Well, he’s such a good skater that he has the ability to play lots of minutes. We don’t want to see him play that many minutes. I don’t think it’s the right way to play. We want to play a game where everybody’s contributing,” Crawford said.
He added: “If it’s a game where you’re playing well and hitting on all cylinders, there’s a lot more balance in the distribution of how you distribute all your ice whether it’s forwards or defenseman. So that’s the ultimate goal. It’s nice to know you’ve got people like Robidas and like Goligoski who have that ability to log such big minutes because they are such good skaters.”
Among others who fit that bill is winger Jamie Benn
, a group the Stars coach admits he has no reservations about milking every last shift he can out of between now and the end of the regular season.
“I know that we’ve got young people that skate real well and they have power in their game. We’re trying to manage everything we can off the ice,” Crawford said. “You see that we’re giving lots of days off. These athletes are finely-tuned machines.”
And when asked if he could remember when he had played more minutes than against the Preds or Flyers, the young Stars defenseman was at a bit of a loss.
“I don’t know. It’s tough to say. Some games are harder minutes. Last game was one of those,” Goligoski said. “It felt like they played the way they wanted to play really well and it made it harder on us. Some games you play 20 minutes and it will be harder than one where you play 28. It depends on the game. It felt good.”
For most of his time in Dallas, he has been paired alongside Stephane Robidas
in the Stars’ top defensive pairing. His veteran teammate continues to be impressed with what he’s brought not just to the blue line but to the entire team.
“He’s a young guy, a really good skater and so smooth. He can log minutes like that,” Robidas said. “All he needs to do is be smart and be a good skater. He knows when to jump into the play. He doesn’t really have to play a physical game where that’s going to wear him down. I’m not saying those are easy minutes but it’s a lot easier to play like that.”
During his time in Pittsburgh, Goligoski got plenty of playoff experience and in 2009, was part of the Pens’ Stanley Cup championship team. So it’s safe to say that like the rest of the players in the NHL, he lives for this time of year.
“Yeah, you get a new energy it seems like. The lull of the season’s over and it’s exciting again,” the Stars defenseman said. “I think that’s why you’re seeing a lot of games around the league that are tight games and exciting games.”