The Stars are currently on the brink of setting a second-round date with the St. Louis Blues.
The top line made their presence known in Game 5 with Seguin and Radulov each tallying two points and Benn tallying three. The unification of the trio for Games 4 and 5 have certainly provided the Stars the spark they needed to generate offense as they have now scored five goals in each of their last two games.
The Stars have managed to reignite their explosive offense capabilities largely due to the grind and talent present in the top 6 forwards. Roope Hintz, Mats Zuccarello, and Jason Dickinson also joined in on the party with Dickinson producing two goals of his own. The offense is buzzing and this is without the defensemen having a goal since Game 1. While it may not have been the path he imagined, it does seem like Monty has delivered on his preseason promises.
Pressure and Possess The Puck
Forcing turnovers was a big part of the Dallas Stars game plan for success and in Game 5 especially, they executed perfectly. Jamie Benn had a particularly relentless effort that led to a beautiful goal for Alexander Radulov in the slot that all started because he pressured Ryan Elis and, to the defensemen’s credit acknowledged, absolutely shake and baked him. The Stars managed to force Nashville into 19 giveaways compared to only 8 for the Stars. Dallas took advantage of how loose the Predators were with the puck scoring 3 goals in the second period and an extra insurance goal in the 3rd period. Monty wanted his team to have the identity of taking care of the puck while forcing the other team to lose it. Dallas can find themselves playing deep into May if they can maintain this style.
Unleash Their Skill
The other half of Montgomery’s promise of possessing and pressure is being able to unleash their skill once they have executed. Finishing and unleashing their skill has been an issue for the Stars throughout the season. They have been able to create high-quality scoring chances, but the finishing has been standing in the way of team success. It has not been a problem in the last two games, however. Both of Radulov’s goal were examples of the Stars using their talent and skill to put the puck in the back of the net. Benn’s exquisite pass to Radulov flying down into the slot to score and Tyler Seguin making a cross-ice pass perfectly placed to let Radulov slam the puck into the empty net. Even Jason Dickinson’s goal showed some skill as he managed to beat Pekka Rinne from distance with a perfectly placed wrist shot. His goal from distance also was the product of the Stars relentless style and desire to get the puck and score.
Calm Under Pressure
While Monty did not explicitly promise it before the season began, his demeanor bother before and during the season has helped the Stars grow into a mentally tough team that does not panic. The Stars gave up the first goal in Nashville, much like they did in Game 1, and still battled back to secure a crucial victory. Nashville during the regular season was almost unbeatable when they scored the first goal of the game. They are 1-2 in this series remarkably, much to the credit of the Dallas Stars players and coaching staff. The mental toughness, especially in the face of adversity, was a question in the regular season. Losing a lead in Denver in the third period, being blown out in Pittsburgh, struggling to win games against opponents they should have been beating handily. All of these led to fair questions about how far this team could go and the mental makeup of this team.
Despite all of this, including the comments by a certain executive, the Stars did not crack under the pressure. The team rebounded well in the final month and a half of the season posting their best month in March in over 3 years. The team kept their composure and found a way to secure a playoff spot. Once they arrived, despite going down 2-1 in the series, the Stars have once again bounced back to take a 3-2 series lead and a chance to advance on home ice.
This team does not give up because they play for each other and their coach. Monty made many promises when he was introduced before the season and seeing him keep those promises means Dallas made the right decision on the man to run this team.
Featured Image: AP,Photo:Mark Humphrey