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Should Dallas be worried about its ‘Zoolander’ defense?

Aug 16, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

Anaheim Ducks v Dallas Stars - Game Six Getty Images

The Dallas Stars revamped their offense and have No. 1 goalie Kari Lehtonen locked up for some time, which only seems to shine a brighter light on what’s believed to be their biggest weakness: team defense.

The Stars front office seems confident that they’ll improve from within after a quiet offseason in that area (but, again, certainly not on offense). The team’s website passes along some favorable quotes from some prominent figures in the franchise, including head coach Lindy Ruff’s take from an interview with The Ticket’s Bruce Levine.

“I’m excited about our defense,” Nill said. “We kind of had two different defenses during the season. There was the early-season defense that we didn’t know who was going to play with who, how they were going to match up, how it was going to fit. And then you had the defense from January on that played very well. We know now what that fit is. We’re excited.”

The team seems especially excited about perceived improvements from oft-criticized blueliner Alex Goligoski as well as Trevor Daley. Still, Defending Big D brings up an interesting problem in an amusing way by referencing Derek Zoolander’s inability to turn left: will the Stars’ defense corps be greatly limited by the lack of right-handed shots at that position?

Remember, NHL players make decisions in fractions of seconds. Working from the backhand means every action comes with an extra step. That step reduces the fluidity of a player’s actions. It’s an opportunity for the forecheck drop the hammer, or for the penalty kill to slide into a shooting lane. Bye bye one-timer. That step is also an opportunity for error. Just look at the curve of your average hockey stick. The split second it takes to ensure a wobbling puck doesn’t slide under the blade is more than enough time to pull a forward offside or close off a pass.

Then again, Mike Modano brought up an interesting point while talking up the Stars for Dallas seems to be rebuilding piece-by-piece.

“I think it’s been very positive, a kind of piece-by-piece process, but that pretty much goes with a lot of teams rebuilding. Bits and pieces become available, there are big trades to acquire the personnel you want and Jim did that with the Seguin deal,” Modano said.

In other words, maybe that proper right-handed defensive piece didn’t present itself just yet. There are plenty of times for that to happen – perhaps the trade deadline? – so in the mean time the Stars might as well say the right things about their defense being really hot right now.

  1. lowenni - Aug 16, 2014 at 9:42 AM

    Like Trevor Daley a lot, very underrated and sort of plays a similar game to a Giordano, and Alex Goligoski has improved. Brenden Dillon has potential as well and is physical and can skate but beyond that not sure if anyone on the team is really top-4 or will become one. I don’t think big Jamie Oleksiak is really that good, he’s just really tall. That all being said I think it’s decent enough and the offense will score enough goals to overcome any defensive weaknesses in the regular season, aided by Lindy Ruff’s coaching. Don’t agree with letting Robidas go, though. People have been making such a big deal out of Dallas’ defense but as Modano points out rebuilding is a step by step process. The next Drew Doughty isn’t just going to come along through a trade or a draft to them for nothing. We forget that they only just made the playoffs again last season after a long time, they have time to work and build. Yes, the defense needs work, and Nill has shown he is willing and capable of making moves, but it’s unfair to pour so much criticism on their defense or wonder if they’re contending after they’ve only just made the playoffs. As Modano points out, they might even still be rebuilding.

  2. gbatap - Aug 16, 2014 at 12:37 PM

    Very good chance that Klingberg sticks with the club going into the season or is the first call up and he’s a right shot. Nice to see an article on here about dallas’ D with no mention of oleksiak. The kid is getting closer but no way he’s being brought up to play bottom pair when he’ll be getting top pair minutes at cedar park.

    Elite d just aren’t available to acquire and usually need to be developed. I like the Stars approach and over the next couple of years they’re going to have a logjam at that position with alot of young talent.

  3. endusersolutions2013 - Aug 16, 2014 at 2:35 PM

    With Detroit, Mike Babcock very openly wanted a right shooting D-man, and they were unable to acquire one.

  4. vancouversportsbro - Aug 16, 2014 at 4:56 PM

    I’ve seen worse defenses in the league. Dallas doesn’t have the defense to win a championship yet but it’s not bad either. There’s this kid named Brendan Dillon who looks like he could be a number one pairing defenseman in no time…

  5. skr213 - Aug 17, 2014 at 2:22 PM

    Maybe others have already been referring to their defense this way and I’ve just missed it previously, but calling this the Zoolander defense is pure genius. For those who don’t understand the reference, go watch the movie. Brilliant.

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