Friday’s game is going to be a little different for Dallas Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski. For the first time since being traded to the Dallas Stars, Goligoski will be playing in Pittsburgh, where he started his NHL career, played four seasons and won a Stanley Cup.
“I’m sure it will be weird. It’s not too weird coming to the building, but playing against the guys it’s going to be kind of weird having been with them for so long,” Goligoski said. “It’s like I know what they’re going to do before they do it, and they probably think the same thing about me. It’ll probably be a little weird for a few shifts there.”
While Friday’s experience will be a new one for Goligoski, he’s settled in now with the Stars following last February’s trade that brought him to Dallas and sent forward James Neal and defenseman Matt Niskanen to the Penguins.
“It’s been fun. It was a whirlwind, but starting the year this year things have been great. The team is playing really well. It’s a little different weather, but it’s been good nonetheless,” Goligoski said. “You get settled, get an apartment, you’re more comfortable, you get to know the guys better. It’s a better situation. When you’re comfortable then you’re playing well.”
The Stars saw the deal as important move to shore up their blue line and give them a skilled, puck moving defenseman.
“We look at Goose and we just see an elite defenseman,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “Great character, elite defenseman offensive and defensively. He’s a well-rounded guy. He cares as much about defending as he does about points. That’s rare with some guys. He competes at both ends. He’s an invaluable guy for us.”
The trade to Dallas was an opportunity for Goligoski, who was down Pittsburgh’s defensive depth chart at the time of the deal. It was an also an opportunity for the Penguins to add some scoring punch up front with the acquisition of Neal.
“We had a lot of good defensemen in Pittsburgh. They were looking for a forward for a long time. It was just one of those things. Someone has to go if you’re going to bring someone in,” Goligoski said. “Hopefully, it works out for both sides. Both teams are doing well, so right now it looks like it.”
James Neal faces former Dallas teammates
Friday’s game will mark Penguins forward James Neal’s first game against his former teammates since last season’s trade.
“Obviously I’ve got a lot of good friends over there, but a lot of guys have been traded and play against their old teams. It will be all business when we play,” Neal said.
Neal scored only one goal in 20 games with the Penguins last season following the trade, but he’s off to a good start this season. He has nine goals in 15 games and his tied for fifth in the league in goal scoring.
*Pittsburgh center Sidney Crosby will not play Friday against the Stars. There had been speculation that Crosby, who has not played since January due to a concussion, could return Friday, but Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said Thursday that Crosby would not play this weekend.
*Stars forward Brenden Morrow did not practice Thursday due to an elbow issue. He is probable for Friday.
*The Stars placed forward Steve Ott (hip pointer) on injured reserve retroactive to October 29. The move opens up a roster spot if Morrow can’t play and the Stars want to call up a player from the minors.
*Jamie Benn, Loui Eriksson, Kari Lehtonen, Mike Ribeiro and Sheldon Souray are all on the ballot for this season’s NHL All-Star Game. Voting begins November 14. The All-Star Game is January 29 in Ottawa.
*The court hearing to approve the sale of the Dallas Stars has been moved from November 23 to November 18. The sale still needs to be closed and must be approved by the NHL Board of Governors. If all goes well, Vancouver businessman Tom Gaglardi could be the team’s new owner in less than two weeks.