In the past two games the Stars have taken care of business and sit on the brink of closing out the first round of 2023’s Stanley Cup Playoff run. With two potential matchups remaining, a Fleury of storylines have been born from the first 5 tilts (Freudian slip). The cream of the crop has risen and battling strategies have leaned the Stars way thus far, and could point to how the series wraps up. With all of this to unpack, the brightest shining Star needs no introduction, Mr. Roope Hintz.
Postseason Roope Hintz: Roope-a-dope
Roope Hintz has stepped up in the spotlight, to the tune of a record setting individual series. Registering his 11th point of the matchup last night, we’re seeing the playoff Hintz that has been stolen from us via injury in year’s past. Max Domi said the quiet part out loud in their pregame presser when he said “he’s the player you create in those NHL games,” since he’s got the speed, finish, and size of an ideal player.
It comes as no shock to Stars fans, as he passes the eyeball test night after night. The scoresheet was much more kind to Robertson in the regular season because of his impossibly thorough fundamentals, which has been dulled by the defensive prowess shown in this showdown.
The hypebeasts of twitter will publish their onslaught of memes for “missing” players, but analysis of the defensive focus indicates two outstanding performances. The first being Jared Spurgeon’s draw on Jason Robertson, as Robo’s been handcuffed at 5-on-5. Space on the ice is hard to come by, unless you’re as fast as Roope, and the Wild have demonstrated a solid grasp of that.
Since no one’s going to catch Hintz, they’ve resigned to the idea that dying by someone else’s non-robotic hands is more honorable, dogpiling 21 in the offensive cycle. Robo has, however, come alive on the power play with 2 goals and thrust another matchup into the spotlight.
It looked to be a long series after Kaprizov penetrated the armor of Playoff Otter for the first goal in game 1, but the effort of Miro Heiskanen has deafened such noise since then. Not only has Kaprizov failed to find the back of the net in the 4 games since, he has yet to register an assist for the entire series.
It’s not as if he’s riding the pine, Kaprizov is averaging over 23 minutes of time on ice per game and Miro is proving to be too much. The moaning and groaning we all exude about lack of Norris chatter around Miro completely disappears when the rubber meets the road and it’s time to prove it. Neutralizing elite threats are key to a cup run and Miro fits the billing when his number is called.
Postseason Roope Hintz: The Quiet Part Out Loud
As Miro provides the silence, he’s embodying the mindset of what’s making this team hum currently. Remaining cool, calm, and collected when there’s no absence of bulletin board material has enhanced the ideal that getting too fiery will burn you. Case and point, Marcus Foligno eliminated any positivity with his expletive laced tirade about officiating after game 4.
Had he kept his cool, he may not have been ejected without hesitation for a knee-on-knee hit to Faksa about 2 minutes into game 5. Playing a physical game has to be unapologetic and unsympathetic, so you can’t complain about officiating when you’re facilitating the unspoken rules on the ice.
The boss behind the bench sets the example with his demeanor and played his words well in post-game pressers as well. Pete DeBoer didn’t feel compelled to get the last word in after a brief back-and-forth with Dean Evason, and the team has followed suit.
When the Wild were up in game 3, Foligno, Middleton, and Dumba were outwardly mocking the Stars for diving, flopping, or whatever terminology was circulating in their locker room. The Stars withhold mockery from their game while also standing up to what the Wild have attempted to dole out, indicating buy-in for the head coach’s message.
Far From Over
The buy-in, the stardom, the subtlety all merge into a worthy 3-2 series lead with at least one more home game in store for us to attend. There’s three ways the series could wrap up and two of them point to the Stars moving forward. As the team shifts their focus to game 6 in Minnesota, Pavelski waits in the shadows to join forces with the boys. Time to buckle up and bear down before things get wild.