Dallas Stars Receiving Offensive Surge From Antoine Roussel
The Dallas Stars may be struggling with a few different parts of their game right now, but scoring goals is not one of them. They have a feisty Frenchman to thank for that.
The country of France is known for a lot of things, but producing hockey players is not one of them. In fact, there are currently only three active NHL players that hail from France.
One of those players is Antoine Roussel. The 26 (almost 27) year old Frenchman is now serving his fifth season in the NHL, and wow how quickly time has gone. It seems as though just yesterday he was scoring his first career goal against the then Phoenix Coyotes.
Roussel has been a bit of a hidden asset for Dallas since he made his NHL debut with the Stars on February 1, 2013 (which is also when he scored his first NHL goal). While primarily skating on the third and fourth lines as a grinder and filling in on the penalty kill, he’s found ways to scrounge up points and inject a necessary physical edge into their play style.
Though he’s not the most prolific scorer, Roussel is known for one thing specifically: his peskiness and physicality. He has been in the top six in the league for penalty minutes in each of the past three seasons. He currently leads the NHL in penalty minutes with 54.
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He can get under the skin of the opponent whenever the situation calls for it, he’s always willing to fight, and never ceases to be scrappy. In other words, he’s got a rugged personality and does not play well with others that aren’t in Victory Green.
But this year, it’s almost as if Roussel has transformed into an entirely new player. Over the past three seasons, his statistics have remained remarkably similar when jumping from one season to the next.
In 2013-14, he scored 14 goals and tallied 29 points in 81 games. In 2014-15, his numbers dipped slightly to 13 goals and 25 points. And throughout last season, Roussel finished with 13 goals and 29 points. Over the past three years, he’s been the typical third-line grinder. That’s all the Stars have asked of him.
So far throughout the 2016-17 season, the Dallas Stars have been forced to ask a lot more of Roussel. Injuries reigned supreme through the Stars lineup over the first month of the season. Patrick Sharp, Patrick Eaves, Jason Spezza, Ales Hemsky, Jiri Hudler, and Mattias Janmark have all been absent for a portion of the season.
These injuries left Dallas searching for help on offense. Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin can only carry the team so far before they need some depth assistance. It wasn’t quite sure who would step up and provide that help, but multiple players ended up rising to the occasion, one of which is Roussel.
He went pointless against the Colorado Avalanche last night, meaning the seven game point streak that he carried into the game was officially broken. Even though the streak died off, it’s amazing that Roussel was able to carry it that far. It was the longest point streak of his career and was the longest running one in the league for a little while.
This season, Roussel has four goals and 12 points in 18 games. He’s almost at a point-per-game pace. The NHL points leader is Mark Scheifele with 22 points. That means that Roussel is hypothetically in the top half of scorers in the league. That’s incredible. Over the seven games preceding the most recent one, Roussel had three goals and six assists.
During that span, he mainly skated alongside Tyler Seguin and Patrick Eaves on the second line, and the three gained instant chemistry. He was also given a try on the power play, and had one power play assist in three consecutive games.
Roussel was called on to do big things at the beginning of this season, and it’s safe to say he answered the bell. At this point in the season, he’s on pace 18 goals and 54 points, both of which would be career-highs. Not bad for a guy who is typically known only for what he does when the gloves are off.
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