Who would’ve thought? I mean honestly? Every true Stars fan (including myself, see “3 Reasons Why Dallas Will Win The Series” as well as the comment from some ducky) should have believed since Friday night that an 0-2 hole was nothing and that the Stars were going to find a way to carve this series back to even. And boy did they.
With the home crowd roaring in front of them, they delivered 2 blows on Monday and Wednesday night, one developing into a 3-0 obliteration and a 37 save shutout for the Big Finn, and the other starting out at an 0-2 deficit after 20 minutes and turning into a scoring clinic for the Stars that ended in a 4-2 smack down (smack down for more than one reason, thanks to ROUSS). These boys have proven one thing for sure: that no matter how old or young they are, they have too much heart for the opposing team to handle (and their fan base is pretty awesome as well). The Stars found their way into the postseason and are now, to many people’s surprise, looking for a way to move onto the 2nd round instead of looking for a way to not get swept.
The boys return to the forsaken city of Anaheim where a rival fan base is looking for a way to match Dallas’ fan intensity and get in their heads. If the boys can scoop up a win tonight at 9:30 at the Honda Center, they will come back to an elegant homecoming from a sold out crowd at the AAC on Sunday looking for a 4-2 series victory over the best of the West.
But if they are going to dominate tomorrow like they have done the last two games, though this time in enemy territory, they will need to follow these 3 steps:
1. Take momentum into Anaheim
Who has the momentum? There is no doubt who holds the keys to success right now. The Stars performed almost perfectly in Big D, allowing 2 goals in 120 minutes and sniping home 7 in the same time span. This pushed many back to the question of, “Who WILL win this series?” and provided hope for many Stars fans. They now travel to an Anaheim team who is rattled and lost at the moment. With this circumstance intact, NOW IS THE TIME TO CAPITALIZE. Anaheim’s faith has been shaken, and for that matter stirred as well. So the Stars have found their weakness and look to use it against them. If they can start out of the gate hard as they have the last three games, they could put this game away by the first period. The Ducks have been strangled by the injury of Getzlaugh (hehe) and are in search of an emotional and hard-nosed leader. The Stars need to play 60 strong minutes of hockey and hold the blue line so those lucky slappers like Allen’s last night won’t make it through. Do this, get ready for the duck hunt to be in full bloom.
2. Rip Andersen early
Oh Frederik Andersen, how far thou haft fallen since Game 2. I guess rookie goalies don’t understand what it’s like to play in the playoffs against a strong and determined away team fan base. Well that sure seems to be the case. The Stars need to take their grasp on Andersen’s self-confidence and crush it until it becomes self-consciousness. A week ago he was making impossible saves that no one could have ever dreamed possible in a playoff atmosphere by a first year player. These past 5 days, it seems as if he and Kari have traded identities. The Stars need to pound him tonight with 30+ and take him down once again. If they can, they can bring him back to the AAC for a final Game 6 where the recurring “ANNNDERSEN” chants will ring once again and turn him into a wallowing ball of self pity for the offseason. That being said, this will be a key IF the Ducks decide to start Andersen. He was chased out of the crease with 12:16 left in the third after Goligoski taunted him with a snap from a Fiddler back hand pass. Hiller came in and allowed none off of one shot (big friggin whoop) as the Stars coasted to victory. Though Andersen is the likely choice, Hiller would be a possible relief for Dallas considering they scored 11 goals on him this season in 140 minutes. So, attack the net, please.
3. PHYSICALITY and secondary scoring
Boy, did Getzlaugh (again, hehe) and Perry have a bounty on their heads at the AAC for Games 3 & 4. Every time they even came close to the puck, an annunciated call of “BOO” erupted through the arena. It seemed as though most (including me) wanted them knocked down to the point of not getting up. And boy did Roussel answer our prayers. He just about busted Getzlaf’s (don’t want to wear out the joke) nose using the facemask protecting Getzlaf’s chin during a tussle along the boards after the whistle to which both got penalties. And as Getzlaf sat out in Game 4 with a lower body injury (or a strong fear for the angry Frenchman, maybe both?), Roussel finished off the other perpetrator by knocking Perry on his cheeks after a few punches were thrown during the action and by the fans vote Roussel was declared the victor. The Stars need to use this intensity in Game 5. There will obviously be a storm of hatred waiting for many of the players (stay classy, Anaheim) and they will need to respond with blunt force. Use the checking game on anyone who has the puck wearing black but be smart about it and finish the hits. If a fight erupts, make sure it’s won so the crowd has nothing to cheer about. This should go without saying but, “GO DUCK HUNTING”.
Also make sure the secondary scoring continues. Stars finished the Ducks off both nights using different players to score the tallies, including one from Benn in each game, Nichushkin, Garbutt, Fiddler, Eakin, and Goligoski. The Ducks are still focusing on cutting down the top line so make sure the other 3 lines make them pay. Major props to Horcoff as well who has played a key role in this objective and led the bottom liners to success with 4 assists over 4 games. Crash the net for centering feeds and rebounds as well as get in Goalie TBA’s face with screens. Crush their seemingly helpless defense as they have done the past two games.
Well it’s been a great series and promises to be a great finish. The Stars have dug out of an 0-2 hole but are only back to even. Don’t let this become a discouragement for you. They now hold the cards for their own destiny, unlike before. As a Duck fan so graciously pointed out on my article about why Dallas would win the series, the team with a 2-0 lead in a series wins the series 83% of the time. So let’s be that 17% Stars fans. Let’s show this team that we are a driving force not to be reckoned with. If they hustle and push it tonight, be ready to buy tickets for Sunday to hopefully watch the green sweaters move to the second round and send a first seeded team full of pride home much earlier than expected. See what happens tonight and keep the faith. Go Stars