Stars defenseman John Klingberg is on a roll in the points department. He picked up two assists in Saturday’s 5-3 win over San Jose, extending his points streak to seven games, the longest current streak in the NHL and tied for the fourth longest this season.
It’s the longest by a Dallas defenseman since Sergei Zubov put together a nine-game streak in 2006. Klingberg’s run has pushed him to 11 points (two goals, nine assists) in 11 games and has him tied for the scoring lead among NHL defensemen.
“He’s been awesome,” said Alex Goligoski, Klingberg’s partner on the Dallas blue line. “He’s been as good as he was last year, so I don’t think it’s a real revelation. He’s just that good of a player and he’s played the way he can.”
The 23-year-old Klingberg, who is in his second NHL season, has registered points in nine of the Stars’ eleven games.
“I think I have been playing pretty good. There have been some ups and some downs,” Klingberg said. “I am happy with the season. I think I can do better.”
On Tuesday, Klingberg scored the game-tying goal when the Stars overcame a 3-0 deficit to defeat Anaheim 4-3. Klingberg had the primary assist on Antoine Roussel’s game-winning goal in Saturday’s win over the Sharks. In Thursday’s overtime win over Vancouver, Klingberg set up the game-tying goal, eluding a defender, then sliding along the blue line and putting a shot on goal that Patrick Sharp tipped into the net.
“Klinger, you want the puck in his hands out there when you are trying to score,” Sharp said. “He’s so crafty, and he makes things happen.”
“It’s a play where he can hold onto it and find a lane and get it through there and give someone else a chance to tip it or get it on net,” said Goligoski. “It’s a great play and a play that not a lot of people can make.”
The game against Vancouver was a snippet of some of those ups and downs that Klingberg has experienced this season. He made the big play on the game-tying goal, but before that there were some issues and coach Lindy Ruff sent a message.
“John was struggling a little bit with his scoring chances against and his puck management, so for a little bit we went with five D,” Ruff said. “And then at the end he made the big play on the tying goal. You get going in a game and you get going sideways, and it’s just a message that you have to get better.”
That’s life with Klingberg or any creative, offensive defenseman. They are going to try to make plays to create offense, and that comes with risks.
“The way we are structured and the way we want to play, our defensemen are involved,” said Ruff. “With that comes some disappointing turnovers at times and some plays where you have to make some tough decisions. I want the reward to be 80-20. I expect John, with some of the plays he makes, that there are going to be a couple turnovers. We are trying to minimize the ones that come at crucial times.”
For Klingberg, it is just part of the learning process as a young defenseman.
“There are some games you are going to have to play as easy as you can, but it is also hard for me because I want to be a creative d-man. Those days are going to come, but that is something I am going to have to learn,” he said.
And what Ruff has liked is that Klingberg has proved to be a quick learner, showing an ability to bounce back after a rough game or a rough stretch.
“He’s been really good,” Ruff said. “The [Oct. 24 Florida] game he was in on ten chances against, which is way too many. [The Oct. 27 Anaheim] game he was our best player in that category. That’s the give-and-take. He’s had a bad game; does he bounce back? He’s bounced back.”
And Klingberg is following up a stellar rookie season with a solid start to his second NHL campaign. He’s not a secret anymore. That means more attention from the opposition, but that doesn’t seem to be slowing him down.
“I can feel it coming pretty hard at me at times,” Klingberg said. “I think they are doing that on every puck moving defenseman. They can come pretty hard to disturb your offensive game. That is something we are going to have to be aware of, but it is nothing I am thinking about.”
“That second year, it seems like there’s always points in the year where things can kind of go a little bit tougher,” said Goligoski. “He’s a focused guy and he has a lot of confidence, so it’s gone well for him so far. I’m sure teams are definitely keying on him more. He’s handled it well, and I’m sure he will continue to.”
*The Stars recalled forward Devin Shore from the Texas Stars (AHL) on Sunday. Shore will give the Stars 13 forwards for their upcoming road trip. Shore, a rookie, leads Texas in goals (8) and points (11) through the first nine games of the season.
*The Stars departed Sunday for Toronto, where they will play the first game of their road trip on Monday. They also play at Boston (Tuesday), Carolina (Friday) and Detroit (next Sunday).
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.