It’s almost here, Stars fans! Something we’ve searched for but haven’t been able to find for the past half-a-decade. Game One of the Stanley Cup Playoffs with the Stars standing at center-ice.
Game One will commence at 9 P.M. (ugh back to Pacific division time zones) on Wednesday night live from the Honda Center on NBCSN.
This series is a very hot topic in the NHL right now, as many people believe that this series may go to 7 games and that the lower team (that’s us Stars fans) might actually prevail! If you’re a true Stars fan, you know that this is a perfectly valid statement to make. Most people just look at the bracket and say, “Oh, Anaheim is the higher seed, they’re gonna score more points in the four periods during each game” (these people make me sick). But they are not looking at the true facts. Sure, they beat us once when our starting goalie was injured and we had to play our minor league starter Jack Campbell and they massacred us 6-3 (which is the same game that we forced Anaheim to pull Jonas Hiller in the first due to his downright disgusting performance in net allowing 3 goals to slip through). The Stars humbly returned the favor the eve of Thanksgiving eve when we blew them out of the AAC with a 6-3 margin and a win for our former backup Dan Ellis. February 1st came along and Lindy decided to play it risky and put Dan in net once again against the at the time #1 team in the league. And they just so happened to shut them out and walk out of the Honda Center with a 2-0 win on their backs.
All this sounds great and probably lifts your spirit but those games mean nothing now and Anaheim is ready to bring the heat. If the Stars want to replay the regular season battles with this Ducks squad and walk out victorious, here are 3 key Stars players that must step up if they want their team to succeed.
1. Kari Lehtonen
Now I know everyone is thinking, “Of course Lehtonen has to step up! He’s the only one to keep the rubber duckies from scoring for Lindy’s sake!” Fair point. But Kari has been the decider in multiple games this season. Some nights the Stars will laze around and let Kari take 50 shots (*clears throat* Chicago) and have him stop 47 to take a 4-3 victory! And some nights the Stars will play their above A+ game and ARE the ones taking 50 shots and Kari only takes a measly 24 and give up a 3-2 loss (*cough* Toronto). He’s going to be a key to this team’s success in the first round against a Ducks squad that he hasn’t met since April 5, 2013 where he was the first star for stopping 28 of 29. And after getting a rest from last night’s game against PHX (in which it seemed like everyone took a rest), a little birdie (maybe a duckie?) tells me that Lindy is planning on using him to his full disposal.
2. Alex Chiasson
Now most of you are wondering, “Why is that fourth line kid going to mean anything?”. Well, Chiasson is what I like to consider a “late bloomer” this year. He started the year on the second line and scored the first goal of the season as well as one more in each game for two more games to extend his streak to an outrageous number of 9 goals in his first 9 NHL games. Those are crazy stats. But he then sank to the bottom of Dallas’ scorecard and many thought he would be dealt at the deadline by a then struggling Stars team. But he picked up his game and finished the season with an impressive 13 goal and 22 assist season. Now he is a key power source on the fourth line and sparks his line to life when he steps out on to the ice. He has mainly been paired with Horcoff and Whitney, who have both seemed to have found their edges as of late. He will prove to be a vital factor in the Stars’ duck hunt.
3. Trevor Daley
This man has become the face of the new Stars defense (sorry Stephane, see you in 2 days). He has provided a determined edge that the defense needed to find and has even worked his way up to being able to put an “A” on his left shoulder. The entire defense has sprouted as of late and everyone is benefitting off of him. He is currently paired with Alex Goligoski and the two have been unstoppable on the ice together (maybe the new dynamic duo? eh maybe not). But Trevor has found a way to help the Stars tremendously in their own zone and in the eyes of trembling goalies who have now taken notice to Daley’s goal scoring and playmaking abilities. He is also the only current member of the Stars to have been on the Stars roster the last time they made the playoffs so this will provide a mentoring edge to the defense considering how different it truly is than a regular season game. If Daley can play like he has been, the Stars could go for the possible sweep (get your brooms out). But don’t get too cocky yet.
So there is your 3 difference makers for this playoff run. As well as basically every other member of the team. If everyone can do their part equally and keep the intensity they have been playing with, I like the Stars in 6. If not, hold on to your playoff beards, people. Stay cautious of this fantastic Ducks squad, no matter how the Stars have done. It’s a whole new land out there that this green squad is new to and the other squad knows oh too well. Keep high hopes for Wednesday but stay careful with what you say.
Let’s go duck hunting, Stars fans. Good night, and I’ll talk to you Wednesday. Go Stars