It seems as though Antoine Roussel has added “score the tie-breaking goal in the final few minutes of the game” to his list of ways to upset the opposition.
Roussel has scored 11 goals so far this season. Six of them have been game-winners which is tied for the third-highest total in the entire NHL. Four of those game-winners have come in the third period while two of those happened in the final three minutes of the game.
He’s already unpleasant enough to the opposition with the fighting, the chirping and the hitting. Now he’s scoring game-winning goals by the handful.
What is he going to do next, score and taunt opposing fans?
Finishing the Game
Roussel’s game winning goals are not going to look pretty for the most part. He isn’t a high-skilled player but he is often the hardest-working player on the ice for every game the Stars play. If the puck is in the offensive zone, Roussel will be hounding it.
Most of his goals come from hacking and slashing around the crease. That is where Roussel goes to work and where many of his altercations after the whistle happen. If Roussel is near the crease, there is a high likelihood that either the puck will end up in the net or someone will be headed to the penalty box. Most of his penalties end up dragging someone else to the box with him, so they generally aren’t costly.
While the score is within one in the first two periods or tied in the third, Roussel has seven goals on the season. That is good for fifth on the Stars while at even strength. While the games are close, the opposition seems to focus on players like Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn while Roussel just keeps quietly working hard. As soon as a team lets their guard down, he’s there to slam home a rebound to give the Stars the lead.
He’s not a prolific scorer by any means (even though he is second in all-time points by a French player, fun fact), but he does chip in at a solid pace.
Finishes Hits (and Fights) Too
Roussel does a lot of things on the ice that toe the line of legality and for the most part, he is good at walking that line. After every whistle in the offensive zone, you will find Roussel near the crease getting punched and throwing cross-checks. It’s just what he does.
What differentiates him from pests like Brad Marchand and Brendan Gallagher (besides the fact that those two have much more skill) is how he rarely backs down from a fight. Roussel is not that big of a player but will regularly fight people who have a significant size advantage. Some of the bigger bodies he has taken on have been; Shea Weber (twice), Brent Seabrook, Corey Perry and Adam McQuaid.
He is the second-leading hitter on the Dallas Stars with 98, behind only Benn in that category. He throws those hits because he is willing to answer for them should it go the way of fighting. Roussel plays the game at 100 MPH and he never seems to settle for anything less.
Never Backs Down
Roussel is just six back of his career-high in points and three back of his career-high in goals. At this rate it looks like all three of them will end up being game-winners. It’s tough to pin down why so many of his goals win the game. Is it because the defense is more focused on the skill players that late in the game? Is it Roussel turning up the energy? Is it just blind luck? It’s hard to say.
One thing you’ll get with Roussel is effort. He is always the hardest working player on the ice in every game that he plays. No matter the score, Roussel is flying around the ice throwing hits and taking shots. Perhaps that is why so many game-winners fall into his lap. The tenacious effort he puts into the game has to wear on his opponents.
This little run of game-winners likely won’t continue. One thing is for sure with Roussel though. The effort will.
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Jordan has been covering the Stars for The Hockey Writers since February 2015. He is originally from Iowa City, Iowa. You can follow Jordan on twitter @jordan_dix