Oh what a difference a week makes! Last Friday, the Dallas Stars found themselves inside Honda Centre being frustrated by the Anaheim Ducks. Fast forward one week later, the Dallas Stars are going back to Honda Centre for game 5 while the Ducks find themselves frustrated with the Stars.
One week ago today, Dallas dropped a 3-2 decision to Anaheim and fell behind in their opening round series 2-0. After two wins on home ice, the Dallas Stars now find themselves in a best of three series with the Ducks.
A very pivotal game five goes tonight in Orange County, California. Here are some headlines to keep an eye out for in game five.
GAME TIME DECISIONS- ANAHEIM
When the Dallas Stars won on Wednesday night to even the series at 2-2, the main concern for the Anaheim Ducks was not that the series was tied, but it was about the health of their captain. Ryan Getzlaf was scratched for game 4 and sent back to Anaheim to receive treatment for a nagging upper body injury. The loss of Getzlaf was not as noticeable as some would figure, as the Ducks quickly skated out to a 2-0 lead in the first period. As the game wore on, the best players on each team began to find their legs. Early in the second period, Stars captain Jamie Benn got Dallas on the board with a sinister wrister from between the circles. Shortly thereafter, Stars forward Vernon Fiddler knotted the score at two when he sniped short side on Ducks goaltender Frederik Anderson. After Fiddler scored, Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau, took a timeout to try and calm his team down. The timeout did not work as the Stars scored four unanswered goals to win the game 4-2. When Boudreau took his timeout, he expected his players to respond positively. This is where he missed his leader most. Without Getzlaf in the lineup, leadership and attention to detail were missing from the Ducks game. It will be interesting to see if Getzlaf gets the required medical clearance and is in the lineup for game five tonight. Without Getzlaf in the game, the Ducks miss more than his offensive capabilities. Besides his silky smooth mitts, the Ducks lack confidence without their captain’s leadership.
Forwards Matt Beleskey and Teemu Selanne are also listed as game-time decisions tonight. Beleskey has been out since game one with a lower body injury. Teemu Selanne was the healthy scratch last game.
GAME TIME DECISIONS- DALLAS
In previous articles, the importance of the Stars being able to match the Ducks size has been stressed. For the first two games of the series, Dallas was grossly outmatched by the height and weight advantages of the Ducks. As they returned home, coach Ruff made a couple adjustments with his defensive pairings. The adjustments made have caused the Stars defence to look more confident than they ever have. Rookie defenceman Patrik Nemeth was a large reason for this turnaround. His hulking size, coupled with his great mobility, is exactly what the Stars need to counter the big bodies of the Ducks. Nemeth’s ice time has increased steadily as the series has worn on, rendering him one of the most important players on the back end. When he took a shot to the wrist in game four, there was serious worry from the Stars in regards to his health. It was later revealed that the injury was not too serious and he would a game-time decision for game five.
Another game-time decision for the Dallas Stars tonight comes in the presence of Brenden Dillon. Dillon could potentially be a series changing addition to the Dallas Stars back-end. The size and confidence that Dillon would add to the Stars would benefit the team greatly.
Other Headlines To Look Out For:
-Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen is starting to catch fire. He has back to back wins in the series including a 37 save shutout on Monday. Can Kari keep it going?
-The Anaheim Ducks crease is once again very crowded. Coming into the series, the Ducks starting goaltending position was up for grabs. After the first two games of the series, Frederik Anderson looked to have staked his claim to the number one duties. However, Anderson struggled mightily in games three and four, opening the door for more debate. Hiller replaced Anderson at the end of game four and looked sharp. So, who will get the start tonight, Hiller or Anderson?
-Two veteran players were uncharacteristically scratched for game four. Ducks Teemu Selanne and Stars Erik Cole were both made healthy scratches. Both these players are seasoned veterans who are expected to lead by example. It will be interesting to see if either coach continues to scratch their veteran’s in favour of youthful exuberance for game five.