Oh what a glorious feeling it is! For the first time in 5 seasons the Dallas Stars will play more than 82 games. After an exciting 3-0 win over St. Louis on Friday night at the AAC, the Dallas Stars hopped a plane to Anaheim with a brief stopover in Phoenix for game 82 on Sunday.
Since the season has ended and the Stars have clinched a playoff spot, Blackout Dallas has received tons of emails, tweets, and Facebook messages pondering the important questions that lie ahead. Here are a couple of the questions that were asked in the past week. Keep sending the questions and we’ll do our best to answer them!
Carlo from Denver, Colorado writes:
It’s been 5 seasons since the Stars have made the playoffs. But it seemed like in every single of those seasons they were right there then fell apart. What was the biggest difference about this year that helped them finally get back in?
Well Carlo, it has likely been a combination of a couple different things. Maybe increased secondary scoring? Better leadership in the room? More accountability amongst each other? However, if we are going to narrow it down to one possible factor, I believe it is likely better goaltending this season. It’s been well documented the past couple years that Kari Lehtonen was overused. He never seemed to be able to come up huge when they needed him most in the past. It is easy to remember back in 2011, in game 82 at Minnesota, the Stars lost and consequently did not make the playoffs. Kari played a career high 69 games and posted his worst save percentage of a full season played at .914. In the “win and you are in” game in Minnesota, Lehtonen allowed 5 goals and looked noticeably tired. This season Kari had a chance for a two week break at the beginning of March when he was injured. He only ended up playing 65 games and looked as good as he ever has. He put a stamp on his improved play down the stretch by shutting out the Blues for the playoff clincher on Friday. Keep Calm and Kari On!
Adele from Hamilton, Ontario writes:
What is the biggest challenge the Stars are going to face in round 1 against the Ducks?
The Anaheim Ducks are a very good team. They have showed their ability to play with the best in the league night in, night out. They have balanced scoring, a good defensive structure, and good special teams. Of all the different problems the Ducks can pose to the Stars, their size is likely what will give Dallas some trouble. Corey Perry (6-foot-3, 212 pounds), Ryan Getzlaf (6-foot-4, 221 pounds), and Matt Beleskey (6 foot, 204 pounds) are all very big bodies and all play on the top line for Anaheim. It will be very interesting to see how the Dallas defence can matchup with these big bodies. The top pairing of Alex Goligoski (5-foot-11, 181 pounds) and Trevor Daley (5-foot-10, 207 pounds) give noticeable height and weight advantages to the Ducks forwards when they’re out on the ice. To counteract this, Daley and Goligoski must be good with their sticks, good with their defensive-zone positioning, and count on the forwards down low to help out.
Pierre-Luc from Montreal, Quebec writes:
Do the Stars really have a chance at beating the Ducks? And anyone else after that?
Personally, I believe the Stars have a great chance at giving the Ducks all they can handle. Of all the teams Dallas could potentially play in the first round, my hopes were with the Ducks being the matchup. Dallas did not want to matchup with a central division team considering their horrendous regular season record within the division. Matching up with the Ducks allows Dallas to enter the Pacific Division section of the playoff bracket, where they had a winning record against all 7 Pacific division teams. Any team has a chance to beat any team in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It has been shown to happen year after year. My best bet is if Kari Lehtonen can take off like we all know he can, the Stars will win this series in 6 games. (ooooooh bold!)
June from Vancouver, British Columbia writes:
What’s made a bigger impact this season, the addition of Tyler Seguin or the addition of Lindy Ruff?
Okay, I see your Tyler Seguin and Lindy Ruff but raise you a Jim Nill! (For all the poker players out there) Nill came to Dallas late last season and has made many franchise defining moves in his short time. He was the one who made the tough decision of trading away fan favourite Loui Eriksson for franchise cornerstone Tyler Seguin. He also brought in Lindy Ruff to lead the team when there were various other coaching candidates available. It would be unfair for me to choose between the two options you have presented. Both additions have worked out wonderfully for the franchise and Jim Nill is to thank for all of that.
Ron from Houston, Texas writes:
Of all the other first round matchups, which series is most likely to end in an upset?
Like I said earlier, any series can end up in an “upset”. Once the playoffs begin, all teams start fresh. All 16 playoff teams truly believe they have what it takes to win the Stanley Cup. Having said that, the biggest “upset” possibility I see is over in the Eastern Conference. The Detroit Red Wings have looked great down the stretch and owned the Boston Bruins all season long. If they’re able to stick around long enough that they can get Henrik Zetterberg back, they will be a team to be reckoned with. Coach Mike Babcock can never be underestimated either. He has been the coach in Detroit for 9 years and has helped the franchise make the playoffs for their unprecedented 23rd straight season. Whatever he is doing or whatever he is saying is not getting old. He is the ultimate motivator of people and will certainly have the Red Wings ready to go in their first round series.
Sorry Stars Fans, that is all the time we have for now! Continue to send in your questions, comments, and concerns. Our FSBlackout Dallas page on Facebook or tweet us at @blackoutdallas are the best ways! Leave a comment below if you aren’t in the social media sphere!
Tags: Kari Lehtonen