It was suggested to Vernon Fiddler this week that if he keeps up his torrid scoring pace, he might be able to catch Sidney Crosby for the NHL scoring lead.
The venerable center pondered the thought for a second, and responded, “Fids the Kid, eh?”
Fids the Kid, indeed. Step aside “Sid the Kid,” there’s a new gun in town. He’s 32, he’s not used to this kind of scoring, and he’s every bit the part of the undrafted Albertan farm boy who made this league on pure guts and determination.
Vernon Fiddler, who tallied six points in the first 33 games of the season, has 10 points (two goals and eight assists) in the last six games. That’s really not what you expect from him, but during this magical, mystery tour the Stars are on, why the heck not?
“We’re a different team right now, and we’re doing different things,” said Eric Nystrom, one of Fiddler’s linemates. “Fids can score, and he’s feeling it right now, so he’s going for it. We’re playing more, we’re getting some power-play time, and we’re cashing in. It’s a great feeling.”
Among the odd shifts that occurred when the Stars unloaded Jaromir Jagr, Derek Roy and Brenden Morrow near the trade deadline was that the Fiddler-Nystrom combination was moved up. The duo started on the fourth line this season and then split up about a month ago, as coach Glen Gulutzan searched for chemistry. But when the big scorers were traded, Gulutzan felt he could trust the valued guys who play defense first.
He combined Nystrom and Fiddler with veteran Erik Cole, and the line took off. They have seen their minutes go from about 11 per game to 17 during this stretch. They have received time on the power play and have matched up against opponents’ best players.
And along the way, the Stars have won five games in a row. The streak has put Dallas (21-17-3) into the playoff picture and created a showdown of sorts with the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday on national television (NBC Sports).
And while there will probably be talk of rookie Alex Chiasson’s six goals in six games or backup goalie Richard Bachman’s three-game winning streak, there also will be talk of Fiddler.
“I’m just trying to do my job, and good things are happening,” Fiddler said. “Our line fits together well, and we’re playing off each other well, and sometimes you get rewarded for that. We know we have to be even better, and we know we have a long way to go, so we’re just pushing hard every day.”