Stars defenseman John Klingberg pulled in some honors Monday. He was named the NHL’s Rookie of the Month for January after leading all rookies in scoring with 13 points (five goals, eight assists) in 13 games.
Klingberg is coming off a big road trip. He scored a spectacular game-winning goal in the Stars’ 6-3 win in Ottawa on Thursday. Saturday in Winnipeg, he became the first rookie defenseman in Stars franchise history to record four points in a game with two goals and two assists in a 5-2 win over the Jets.
Klingberg, who leads all rookie defensemen in goals with nine and ranks second among first-year defensemen in points with 24, is pushing his name into the conversation for the Calder Trophy.
“I do [think he is among the best rookies in the league],” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “He got off to a real good start. He had 10-14 days where he lost his way a little bit with making some ill-advised plays, but I really like the way he is playing now. He’s kept the game simple when it’s needed to be simple, and he’s made some great individual plays that put him in one of the top rookie categories.
“There was the goal in Ottawa and some of the plays he made in Winnipeg. For me, there are almost three or four special play per game that only he can pull off. You appreciate that when you go through a game film. The way he can get away from a forechecker is a special skill.”
As for the 22-year-old defenseman, he seems happy with his progress. He’s 35 games into his NHL career and feels he is taking steps forward with every game.
“It’s good. I feel good,” Klingberg said. “I feel myself developing almost every day, so this is a great time for me to learn and play good hockey.”
This isn’t the first time Klingberg has gone on a good offensive run since joining Dallas. He had a five-game points streak (three goals, five assists) back in November and then maybe jumped ahead of things offensively at times. He said he’s learned a lesson or two from that experience.
“That’s something I have learned from before, so that is not going to be a problem right now. I feel like if I play good defensively the offensive game is going to be there too,” Klingberg said. “I had four points the last game and that’s just a bonus. I know I am not going to score four points every game. Maybe I won’t score any points the next game. That’s not a problem because I am going to just try to stay focused defensively because that’s the first area I have to stay focused on.”
Ruff said there is a lot to like about what Klingberg is doing on the defensive side of things.
“His defensive game has been excellent. We are taking a young guy and playing him against the top personnel. That’s pretty impressive,” Ruff said. “There are not a lot of big mistakes or times you can say he is being flat outmuscled. He’s got good feet. He’s got a great stick when it comes to defending. Pound-for-pound he competes physically. It’s not like he is just trying to play sound defense; he competes physically. He competes in the defensive end using his body and tries to knock people off the puck.”
And good play at both ends of the ice has helped Klingberg get some league-wide recognition.
Injury notes: Cole questionable; Nichushkin, Nemeth progressing
Stars forward Erik Cole, who has missed the last three games with an upper body injury, went through a full practice Monday but coach Lindy Ruff wasn’t ready to say if Cole would be in the lineup for Tuesday’s game against Colorado.
“It was the first practice we’ve put him in where he’s felt the brunt of all types of drills,” Ruff said. “I am hoping he is available for tomorrow but that decision hasn’t been made yet.”
Stars forward Valeri Nichushkin (hip surgery) and defenseman Patrik Nemeth (arm laceration) skated prior to practice. Both are moving forward in their recoveries but are not close to returning.
“They are both progressing,” Ruff said. “I had a discussion with Val and he said he is feeling pretty good. He is just a little bit more in the limited. Nemeth is really chomping at the bit because he feels so good, but it’s an injury where we will use the word caution. He’d like to jump ahead a little bit. The doctor’s advice is to stay the course."
Seahawks loss costs Jordie Benn his beard
That goal line interception in Sunday’s Super Bowl not only cost Seattle a second straight NFL championship, it cost Stars defenseman Jordie Benn his beard. Benn lost a bet with center Tyler Seguin, and the price was that Seguin got to shave off Benn’s beard. That happened in the locker room after Monday’s practice in Frisco.
“I don’t think Seggy was supposed to be a hairdresser,” Benn said. “I don’t know. I might go home and cry a little bit.”
Seguin shaved off most of Benn’s beard. The Dallas defensemen did the rest of the job. But Benn said the beard would return.
“I am not going to touch it for a while,” Benn said. “It is coming right back.”
Had Seattle won yesterday’s Super Bowl and Seguin lost the bet, then Benn would have shaved Seguin’s head.
Stars practice lineup
Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Patrick Eaves
Erik Cole – Jason Spezza – Ales Hemsky
Antoine Roussel – Cody Eakin – Ryan Garbutt
Shawn Horcoff – Vernon Fiddler – Colton Sceviour/Travis Moen
Alex Goligoski – John Klingberg
David Schlemko – Trevor Daley
Jordie Benn – Jason Demers
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.