By Martin Iheke
It has been almost exactly six years since the Dallas Stars were in a playoff game. On Wednesday night, they will get to experience what it is like to play in the postseason again when they open up their first round series at the top-seeded Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks finished the regular season on top of the Western Conference with 116 points while the Stars finished with 91 points, good enough to claim the second wild card spot in the conference. Both teams finished the season strong with the Ducks going 7-2-1 in the last ten games while the Stars finished 6-4-0.
The Ducks scored the most goals during season at 263, thanks largely to the dynamic duel of forwards Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. However, they ranked 22nd in the league on the power play. For the Stars, they came at number 10 in terms of scoring goals at 231. They, too, are lead by the dynamic duel of forwards Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. However, they ranked 23rd on the power play which struggled heavily at times during the season. This is all according to NHL.com.
The Ducks are ranked #9 in goals-against and were 13th on the penalty kill. They are lead by defensemen Cam Fowler, Francois Beauchemin and former Star Stephane Robidas. The Stars were about average giving up 223 goals and were ranked 21st on the penalty kill. They are lead by defensemen Alex Goligoski, Trevor Daley and Brenden Dillon. This is all according to NHL.com.
Right now, the Ducks do not have a #1 goalie. They have three really good goalies that could start in this series in Jonas Hiller, Frederik Andersen or John Gibson. You do not have this problem with the Stars who are lead by Kari Lehtonen. Lehtonen has not faced the Ducks this season so it will be interesting to see how he plays against them when the series starts.
Bruce Boudreau is the head coach of the Ducks who is in his third season. Before that, he coached the Washington Capitals for 4 ½ seasons. Lindy Ruff is in his first season as head coach of the Stars after coaching the Buffalo Sabres for the last fifteen seasons.
The Ducks are hungry to get out of the first round and go on to win a Stanley Cup. They failed to advance to the second round last season after losing to the Detroit Red Wings in seven games. For the Stars, they are excited to be playing in the postseason but also believe they can go far in the postseason as long as they play loose.
The Ducks are a big and physical team that has a lot of depth. When Getzlaf and Perry are on, they are difficult to beat. They will have to use their size and depth to wear down the Stars and figure out who will be the goaltender they can rely on. The Stars are not as big, but are faster than the Ducks. The Stars went 2-1-0 against the Ducks during the regular season primarily because they have been able to utilize their speed effectively against the Ducks. They will have to continue this and get solid goaltending from Kari Lehtonen for them to move on to the second round. This should be a long and entertaining series that will get underway on Wednesday night.
|Wednesday, April 16||9 p.m. CT||Game 1 at Anaheim||FOX Sports Southwest/NBC Sports Network, TSN|
|Friday, April 18||9 p.m. CT||Game 2 at Anaheim||FOX Sports Southwest/NBC Sports Network, TSN|
|Monday, April 21||8:30 p.m. CT||Game 3 vs. Anaheim||TXA-21/NBC Sports Network, TSN|
|Wednesday, April 23||7 p.m. CT||Game 4 vs. Anaheim||FOX Sports Southwest/CNBC, TSN|
|*Friday, April 25||9:30 p.m. CT||Game 5 at Anaheim||FOX Sports Southwest/NBC Sports Network, TSN|
|*Sunday, April 27||TBD||Game 6 vs. Anaheim||FOX Sports Southwest/TSN|
|*Tuesday, April 29||TBD||Game 7 at Anaheim||FOX Sports Southwest/TSN|