Stars acknowledge teams are physically targeting Klingberg
John Klingberg sits third in the NHL in defensemen scoring with 38 points, trailing only Erik Karlsson and Brent Burns.
Given that type of company, it makes sense the Dallas blueliner would be at the forefront of opposition scouting reports -- and now, both Klingberg’s head coach and teammates have confirmed it.
“If I was coaching the other team, I would,” Lindy Ruff said, per the Dallas Morning-News. “We target -- it’s part of the game plan, and you have to accept it. You have to play it, play around it, be aware of it.
“You have to be aware of the players who are on the ice and how much time you have.”
The topic of teams going after Klingberg came following Wednesday’s practice, one the Swedish defenseman missed because of a “maintenance day.”
While Ruff said Klingberg’s handled the targeting well, both he and other Dallas players also acknowledged the hits are going to keep on coming, which leads to a potentially troublesome conclusion:
“Klingberg hasn’t been hurt... yet.”
Klingberg isn’t the biggest guy around and, given his offensive production and minutes per game (23:24 TOI), it’s easy to see why opponents would take the body. If you’re able to neutralize Klingberg, you neutralize one of the strongest pieces of Dallas’ defense, which is arguably its biggest weakness.
As such, the Stars sound like a team ready to increase his protection.
“Klinger’s taken some licks this year,” said Vernon Fiddler. “So we need to help him out with that.”