NHL Playoff Stars shine bright

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NHL Playoff Stars shine bright

Stanley_CupIn about two months, Lord Stanley’s cup will be hoisted by one team.  Sixteen teams enter the tournament.  Fifteen of them will be deflated watching that one team skate around in celebration.  The Dallas Stars are one of the sixteen teams in this tournament and the blood, sweat, emotions and toils that come along with it.  The last time fans saw the Stars in the playoffs was 2007-2008.  They lost to the Detroit Red Wings in the western conference finals.

The previous regime couldn’t get the Stars back to the playoffs.  This new regime has.  General Manager Jim Nill deserves a lot of credit for getting this team back to the postseason, but so to should former GM Joe Nieuwendyk.  A lot of the current players on the staff were brought in by Nieuwendyk.  He made some moves that helped transform this roster.  But Nill made the biggest move of all when he traded left wing Loui Eriksson for centers Rich Peverley and Tyler Seguin.

jamie bennWhile we all know the serious health issues that have happened with him since he collapsed on the bench on March 10th against Columbus, Seguin has been the foundation for the Stars turnaround this year.  All Seguin did was lead the team in points (84) and by virtue goals (47) and assists (37).  This point has been mentioned in several previous posts, but the fact remains that the Stars would not be in the postseason in large part without Seguin.  Left wing Jamie Benn has really flourished into a rising star, second on the team only to Seguin in all of the same categories.  If the Stars can pull off eight-over-one upset and beat the Anaheim Ducks (that’s the Stars first round opponent in case you didn’t know), both Seguin and Benn will have to lead the charge and have huge series.  They will certainly need help from their teammates as well.  Someone like right wing Alex Chiasson or rookie right wing Valeri Nichushkin needs to step up their game now that it is playoff time and take some of the burden off of the shoulders of Benn and Seguin.

Kari LehtonenAs important as guys like Seguin and Benn are to the Stars’ playoff success, so too is goalie Kari Lehtonen.  If he makes the saves, the Stars win.  If he struggles, the Stars lose.  We’ve seen that the past couple of years.  No doubt Lehtonen has the skills to get on a hot streak and be the type of goalie that leads the Stars to a series win or two.  Lehtonen has a 2.41 goals against average (GAA) and five shutouts on the year.  The Stars certainly need him to stand on top of his head and turn in an impressive performance if they want to play more than just five or six games this postseason.

As we look ahead to the first round playoff series with the Anaheim Ducks, the Stars certainly have their work cutout for them.  The Ducks were the best team in a very difficult western conference for a reason.  They’re very, very good.  They’re first in goals per game at just over three (3.2 GPG) and ninth in goals against (2.5).  They have a good penalty kill and a decent power play though it is among the worst of the playoff teams.  Their two best players, center Ryan Getzlaf and right wing Corey Perry, are stars.  Each had over 80 points.  If the Stars want to pull off the upset, they must contain both of these guys.  This has the potential of being a much better series than most people think, one that can go six or seven games.  Right now I’m leaning Ducks, but if you check back tomorrow, we’ll have the official series prediction for this matchup and all of the other playoff series.

Buy your playoff tickets now.  Go out and support the Stars.  Here is the schedule for the first round series against the Ducks:

  • Wednesday, April 16 @ Anaheim 10 PM ET/9 CT NBCSN
  • Friday, April 18 @ Anaheim 10 PM ET/9 CT NBCSN
  • Monday, April 21 VS Anaheim 9:30 PM ET/8:30 CT NBCSN
  • Wednesday, April 23 VS Anaheim 8 PM ET/7 CT CNBC
  • **Friday, April 25th @ Anaheim 10:30 PM ET/9:30 CT NBCSN
  • **Sunday, April 27th VS Anaheim TBA TSN
  • **Tuesday, April 29th @ Anaheim TBA TSN

**= If necessary

Should be a good series.  Let’s see if the Stars shoot themselves past the Ducks and advance to the second round in the western conference.  How it all works out will truly be written in the stars.

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