The Dallas Stars won their first playoff appearance of 2016 to take a 1-0 series lead over the Minnesota Wild. They’ll attempt to make it 2-0 on Saturday at home with puck drop set for 7p.m.
Dallas heavily out shot Minnesota in the first period, but the two teams went into the intermission scoreless.
The second period saw Radek Faksa open the scoring midway through on a slap shot from the slot thanks to a rather excellent pass from Ales Hemsky. Jason Spezza decided to add to his impressive playoff totals by scoring a wrister toward the end of the frame to make it 2-0, which is the lead the Stars took into the second intermission.
Thoughts and Observations
The line of Antoine Roussel, Radek Faksa and Ales Hemsky has something special going on. For whatever reason their chemistry works on the ice and makes them virtually the only untouchable line on the Stars’ roster.
Tonight proved no different as Hemsky had an assist on Faksa’s second period tally, which turned out to be the game-winner. Hopefully their combination of grit, speed and skill can stand the test of time and be a staple for Dallas moving forward in the postseason.
Young Guns Strike
Faksa’s performance was excellent for an NHL playoff debut, as was Stephen Johns. Although he didn’t end up on the score sheet, No. 28 managed to make smart defensive decisions that prevented Minnesota from earning quality scoring chances.
His physicality once again proved to be an intimidation factor for the opposition, which also helps limit the opposing team’s chances at the Dallas net.
With the uncertainty of the playoffs and the recent injury-prone tendencies of the Dallas Stars, it’s vital to have young players that can fit into the line-up on an as needed basis. It’s even better when they make it nearly impossible to take them out of it.
Looking to Saturday
The Stars will host game two on Saturday and some important decisions need to be made before then.
Kari Lehtonen had a solid game in net and earned a shutout in the victory, but that might not mean he necessarily gets the bid for game two. Ruff’s altering method has worked thus far, but he might see Lehtonen’s shutout as a means for starting him in game two as well.
Tyler Seguin is set to make his return to the line-up after missing a month of action. Patrick Eaves, Radek Faksa and Mattias Janmark are the more obvious candidates for head coach Lindy Ruff to sit, but both Eaves and Faksa scored in tonight’s win. Janmark had some quality chances and made some good plays as well.
That may or may not be a factor in choosing who’s the healthy scratch, but it could certainly play a role. Or maybe it’s another forward who sits out so No. 91 can fit into the line-up. It’s really all up in the air.
Then there’s the speculation of what the line combinations will be, but Ruff seems to alter those on a nearly shift by shift basis making it extremely difficult to come up with.
Thus far this season Ruff has guided the Stars in the right direction, so it’s reasonable to conclude he’ll do the same in regards to Saturday. That doesn’t, however, mean his decisions will be easy.
Who do you think Ruff will sit on Saturday? Leave your thoughts int he comments and, as always, thanks for reading! Be sure to check back for full coverage of game two this Saturday!