The Dallas Stars return to the ice tonight to face the Anaheim Ducks in game 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Ducks won game one 4-3 on Wednesday night as goaltender Frederik Anderson made 32 saves and captain Ryan Getzlaf potted a goal and an assist. Here are some headlines to keep in mind for tonight’s game two tilt.
For the first 12 minutes of game one on Wednesday night, the Dallas Stars were playing the exact brand of hockey they wanted to. They were getting up and down the ice by utilizing their speed, while controlling the play for the better part of the first period. The only down part of the first 12 minutes came when Ducks forward Nick Bonino sent a succulent saucer pass to Kyle Palmieri who then tucked the puck through Stars goaltender, Kari Lehtonen’s legs. Dallas had been controlling the play but were unable to get a big stop at a big time. Lehtonen allowed 3 goals on 10 shots in the first period. The 3 goals he allowed cannot be deemed as “weak goals”, but it will be in his ability to make the above-average stop at the correct time that will give the Stars a chance to win. Throughout the remainder of the game, Lehtonen allowed 1 goal on 25 shots while making a couple top-notch stops in the third period. Lehtonen will look to bounce back tonight as he will be given the call in net for game two. It will be in his ability to make the sassy glove grab or quick paddle deflection at the appropriate time that will give the Stars a chance to win tonight.
As a young team going through the playoffs for the first time together, many people expected exactly what went on in game number one. Experts predicted that Dallas would be intimidated by the moment and get run over by the Ducks. Some experts were right… well, kinda. They were correct in saying that Dallas got run over as they found themselves trailing 3-0 heading to the first intermission. However, only the fans who stayed up to watch the game will truly understand that the Stars could have been tied or even ahead going to the break. The Stars were afforded three powerplays in the first 20 minutes and failed to cash in on any of them. The powerplay looked deadly with swift puck movement, which included a Ray Whitney shot hitting the post, but they were unable to make the Ducks pay for their illegal maneuvers. Anaheim gained momentum off their penalty killing work and eventually buried the Stars early on. It will be extremely important for Dallas to make the Ducks pay in game two. Anaheim is a very big, strong, and skilled club who has a tendency to stop moving their feet at times. When they fail to move their feet and get lazy, the parade to the penalty box begins. With success on the powerplay tonight, the Stars can zap momentum from the arena and potentially steal game two.
Stars defenceman Brenden Dillon has missed the last two and a half games due to a lower body injury sustained on April 11th against St.Louis. He missed game one against the Ducks and the ripple-effect it had on the remaining defence corps of the Stars was noticeable. Dillon’s absence forced defenceman Jordie Benn to play the opposite side he is used to, with rookie defender Patrik Nemeth. It also forced Aaron Rome into duty on the third pairing with Sergei Gonchar. The pairing of Rome and Gonchar was burned on the game’s opening goal and did not see much ice-time after that. Dillon has not skated since sustaining his injury but is still listed as day-to-day. His 6-foot-2, 210 pound frame is something that the Stars have identified as a pillar of strength on the back end all year long. His absence causes the shift of many other parts, while also putting the Stars at a larger disadvantage against the bigger forwards of the Ducks. He is still listed as day-to-day so he has a chance to play tonight. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for now.
Other Headlines to Look Out For:
-Duck forward Ryan Getzlaf received extensive medical work to patch up a cut he experienced after blocking a Tyler Seguin slapshot. He will most likely wear some sort of face shield tonight. He is a player who normally does not wear anything on his helmet, so putting on a cage could cause big problems for the Ducks centre.
-Rookie netminder Frederik Anderson will start for the Ducks in game two.
-Ducks forward Matt Belesky who scored a goal in game one and also plays on the Ducks top line, left Wednesday night’s game and did not return. He is currently listed as day-to-day with a lower body injury.