Apr 21, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; The Dallas Stars and their fans celebrate the goal by left wing Ryan Garbutt (not pictured) during the third period against the Anaheim Ducks in game three of the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at American Airlines Center. The Stars shut out the Ducks 3-0. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Stars Mailbag: Back Where They Belong

In the past couple weeks, Dallas Stars fans have been treated to a whirlwind of emotions. From the scoreboard watching in late March, to the excitement of a home playoff victory, the past twenty days for Stars fans has been spectacular. All of these experiences have had Stars fans resting on cloud nine.

Although the roller coaster ride has been enjoyable, all Stars fans, players, and personnel alike, know that it does not stop here.

Going into last night’s home playoff game, the Dallas Stars found themselves down 2-0 in a series to the Anaheim Ducks. It was as close to being a “must-win” game for this franchise since the regular season finale in Minnesota in 2011.

With their backs against the wall, the Stars decided to throw a couple punches and get themselves back into the series. They received goals from captain Jamie Benn, Ryan Garbutt, and Valeri Nichuskin, while Kari Lehtonen stood tall in net with 37 saves.

The Stars now find themselves, trailing the series 2-1, with a chance to make it a best of five when they take the ice tomorrow night at the AAC. If the atmosphere was anything like it was on Monday night, this game will be another dandy to watch!

With all the excitement of Stars playoff hockey also come many questions sent in from loyal readers. Here are the answers to the questions we received this week.

Matt from London, Ontario writes:

The Stars defence has looked extremely unpredictable in the past few games. In game one and two, they were constantly turning pucks over. In game three they looked like a different set of guys back there. Even without Dillon, do you think they continue to play as well as they did in game 3?

Yes Matt I do believe that the Stars defence has the potential to continue playing well like they did in game 3. The biggest difference in my eyes from games one and two to game three was the goaltending of Kari Lehtonen. It seemed in the first couple games of the series, Lehtonen was not as sharp as we all expected he would be. Lehtonen’s average play, coupled with the defensive mistakes of many Stars defenceman, created for a whole pile of bad. When the puck was turned over in the first couple of games, it seemed like it would end up in the back of the net. Last night was a different story. Lehtonen bailed out his defenceman early in the game, and it allowed the guys on the back end to settle in. Once they were relaxed, there were no more bad turnovers or terrible decisions being made. Therefore, if Lehtonen continues his strong play, I see the Stars defenceman growing more comfortable and giving this team a real shot at an upset.

Susan from Cambridge, Massachusetts writes:

What is the biggest adjustment the Dallas Stars need to make that will allow them to beat the Ducks in the series?

From a technical standpoint, I think the Stars have played great hockey so far in the series. Of course there are couple of turnovers and mental mistakes you would like to see vanished, but you have to credit head coach Lindy Ruff for his ability to get this young team ready to play. I personally do not see any outstanding adjustments that need to be made. The turnovers and mental mistakes will clear themselves up with continued experience and confidence as the team moves through the playoffs. The only huge adjustment I could see the Stars making is the insertion of Brenden Dillon when he is ready. He will give the back end even more confidence when he returns, and will only better this team’s chance at moving on.

Laura from East Rutherford, New Jersey writes:

Which Stars player has impressed you the most? Which one has disappointed the most? Which one needs to step up in order to win the series?

Impressed- Jamie Benn
-This guy is truly having a breakout season. First he is named captain of the team, then wins gold with Team Canada at the Olympics, returns to the NHL and sets new career-highs in goals, assists, and points, and is now leading the Stars through the playoffs. He currently has 3 points in the series (2 goals, 1 assist) and is setting a stellar example for his teammates out on the ice. Oh yeah, and did we mention, this is his first experience in the Stanley Cup Playoffs!

Disappointed- Sergei Gonchar
It has been a tough season for veteran defenceman Sergei Gonchar. Stars GM Jim Nill brought him here in the summer to try and stabilize the defense corps. As it turns out, he has looked like the weakest defenceman on the team on multiple nights. For the first two games of the series, Gonchar found himself averaging only 9:24 of ice time. He was much better last night in the 3-0 victory, but so far throughout the playoffs, he has been a huge disappointment.

Step Up- Kari Lehtonen
I’ll start off by saying this: Kari Lehtonen was FANTASTIC last night. Many of Lehtonen’s teammates praised their goaltender’s play, and even went as far as saying he was the reason they won last night. Lehtonen has struggled in the first couple games and the Stars knew they were going to need a heroic effort sometime in this series by the Big Fin. He delivered last night with a 37 save shutout that got the Stars right back into the series. If Dallas has plans on being able to steal game 4 and potentially winning this series, Kari Lehtonen will need to be the leader

That’s all the time we have for now Stars fans. Continue to tweet in your questions to @BlackoutDallas on Twitter, or drop us a line on our Facebook page FSBlackoutDallas.

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Tags: Dallas Stars Jamie Benn Kari Lehtonen

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