With Tyler Seguin Out, Call-Ups Keep The Stars Surging Towards The Top Playoff Seed.
Led by the “New Triplets,” the Dallas Stars are a fast-and-furious squad that have quickly become the darlings of the hockey world this season. Thus, we welcome you to Forechecking, our weekly Dallas Stars column that looks back at the hockey week that was, and then the hockey week that will be.
Your Dallas Stars are fantastic.
Despite missing injured superstar Tyler Seguin, they just went off on a 6-2 run while averaging 3.6 goals a game. Not too shabby! Jamie Benn across this stretch has been marvelous on both sides of the puck, all the while getting plenty of help from the depth of minor league affiliate Texas Stars, which has been providing some quality call-ups of late.
Also, the Stars' special teams are performing above average, bolstered by goaltending that's greatly improved after an extended slump. The team's play hasn't declined in spite of losing one of the top players in the league, and it continues to surge into the playoffs while ol' Seguin continues to nurse his paper cut.
Segsy or no, the team played on right. And so do we. So, let's get to it.
• Victory Green™ vs Nashville Predators, 5-2. Nashville is a meaty, mean, defensive team. Squads built in this manner generally do well in the playoffs, so for the Stars to rope-a-dope the Preds for two periods before sending them to the mat in the third is very encouraging. Having defenseman Stephen Johns and center Radek Faksa in the lineup IMHO is a must for Dallas when matched up against physical teams. Fellow D man John Klingberg had a bit of a rough night, ending the game as the worst possession player on the ice. Such a performance from their No. 1 defenseman would have likely sunk the Stars earlier in the season, but the team has matured nicely with contributions from down the lineup in recent weeks. Jason Spezza scored his 30th goal of the season on a patient two-on-one net drive, giving Dallas its first trio of 30-goal scorers ever with Benn, Seguin and Spezza. Remarkable! Also, remarkable is the fact that with the two empty-net goals scored by Dallas, the team set a new all-time single season record with its 22nd of the year! All these milestones are fun! Shameful moment of the night: James Neal's habitual diving.
• Victory Green™ at Arizona Coyotes, 4-1. Beating the Coyotes doesn't seem like that big of a deal, but for some reason Dave Tippet and company have owned Dallas as of late, having won every matchup of the season. Antti Niemi got the start in net and looked great. His performance in the second period discouraged the pressing 'Yotes and allowed the Stars to counterpunch after giving up the first goal — and boy howdy did they. Faksa and the other youngins in the lineup carried the play, scored goals and kept Arizona on their heels. Jamie Benn netted his 40th of the season. He's really good. Only Mike Modano ever scored more goals in a single season for the Stars. I hope we aren't all taking how special this season has been! Real talk, the Stars look positively lethal. Colton Sceviour and Jordie Benn also got into a couple of scraps to round out the hockey game in true hockey fashion. Jamie Benn attitude of the night: How you want it? Show me my opponent (chomp chomp) Show me my opponent.
• Victory Green™ at Los Angeles Kings, 3-2. To win in L.A. is great, but to win the way Dallas did is better than great. The Stars caught the unsuspecting Kings early, doubling their shots, hits and scoring chances through the first frame. L.A. scored first, but instead of folding, the determined Stars swolled up and answered L.A.'s tally with a PP goal with two seconds left. Super Pest Antoine
Leguizamo Roussel had a hell of game, drawing the ire of the Kings and their cocaine-fueled fans. I think it's safe to say that Antoine's play caused L.A. to lose focus, as the Stars dismantled the King's game plan and continued to out-battle them along the boards and in front of goalie Kari Lehtonen. In addition to scoring and leading his team to Victory Green™, Captain Benn lost a tooth on a high stick — that couldn't have felt too great! — while his brother Jordie went on to score the game winner. That must have felt pretty great! Lindy Ruff picked up the 700th win of his career, joining only five other coaches in NHL history to do so. Congrats Lindy, now let's add a Stanley Cup to that resume.
• Darkness Music at Anaheim Ducks, 1-3. Coming off a physically exhausting battle the day before, it is understandable to expect Dallas to have less oomph against yet another aggressive team. The Ducks were Last Action Hero bad for the first half of the season, before they were able to turn it around and quack their way to contention in the Pacific Division with the league's best power play. Well, the Stars' own PP worked to their detriment as they surrendered two short-handed goals. That's generally a bad thing to do. Niemi back in net looked great again, however, keeping the Stars in the game and making key saves as fatigue started to set in some Victory Green™ legs. Speaking of jersey colors: Don't you think Anaheim has possibly the ugliest looking sweater in the NHL? They look like crap. It's not just the color scheme that's so awful, but the terrible mishmash of shapes and logos, too. With Niemi pulled, Faksa scored in a mad scramble in the Ducks' crease. Remember how we mentioned that the Stars have become the highest-scoring empty net team in NHL history? Well, they are so good they even score on their own goal. Pack it up, game over, blah.
Antoine Roussel, that Fiesty Francophile, keeps it 100 so to speak with his agitation game on fleek all day e'ry day. He's true player for real, a scrapper for skrilla who ain't afraid to 187 a mark for snitching. Yezzir, Rooster is ride or die, a Rubberband man wild as the Taliban. You mess with the squad you bound to get tossed. Did you hear Fat Joe left Atlantic?
The finish line quickly approaches. All that's left of the regular season is a Thursday evening match in Dallas against the Avalanche and a Saturday tilt against the Predators. If they Stars win both, they for sure win the conference, home ice advantage against all Western opponents, and will open the post season against the eighth seed. That'd be nice.
Flip it. Stick it. See ya later, bye. — LehtMoJoe