While the Dallas Stars might not be a trendy pick to win the Stanley Cup in a likely upcoming NHL playoff, all twenty-four teams who made the playoffs this year have not played a game since about the middle of March.
It will be an unusual start for everyone. Plus not very many people predicted that the St. Louis Blues would win the Cup last year.
Let’s look at the pitch for the Stars winning the holy grail this year.
Ben Bishop and Anton Khudobin. Starting with Ben Bishop a few of his years in the playoffs include 2015, and 2016 (with the Tampa Bay Lightning) Bishop would put up a save percentage of .921 and .939 respectively. 2015 included a Stanley Cup Finals appearance.
Last year with Dallas Big Ben had a save percentage of .933 before losing to the Blues in seven games (game seven going two overtimes). Now for the backup goalie (only in name), Anton Khudobin, Donny led the NHL in save percentage this season at .930.
Guys like John Klingberg and Miro Heiskanen quarterbacking a five-man unit makes this team dangerous against anybody. They also have guys who can throw the body around in Jamie Oleksiak, Stephen Johns, and yes, Esa Lindell has the reputation of being a defensive defenseman but can also hit.
It’s also worth mentioning that the Stars are a defense-first team that plays with a lot of speed, and likes to play in transition. Forwards Tyler Seguin, Blake Comeau, Jason Dickinson, and Andrew Cogliano also play a two-way game and can lock it down on defense as well as score goals come and that will be important since the playoffs things slow down, and get more physical.
Last but not least, the sobering memories of losing to the rival Blues in double or game seven last year. The 1998 Stars had to lose to the Detroit Red Wings before they put it all together in 1999 when they won their first (and so far only) Stanley Cup. Dallas acquired veterans, 2007 Cup champ Corey Perry, and Joe Pavelski. While their numbers are down due to age, and playing in a more defensive system. We’ll see if those acquisitions can translate into something Brett Hull-esque. Let’s also not forget about long time Star players, pun intended, Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. Last year Benn was less than an inch from knocking off the Blues on a wrap-around attempt in the first overtime in game seven.
Let’s not forget that Alexander Radulov, who was tied in goal scoring last postseason with Hintz, will be fully healthy too. I also believe maybe most importantly that Rick Bowness will give their younger guys Roope Hintz, and goal-scoring leader Denis Gurianov more playing time than he did during the regular season.
Do the Stars have weaknesses? Sure.
Like goal scoring. But two of their best goal scorers in Hintz and Guri have the firepower to go along with veterans like Seguin, Benn, Perry, and Pavelski.
If defense and goaltending win championships the Stars are as dangerous as anybody else in the dance. Especially when you have months to forget about a six-game drought in the win column.
Dallas will be ready to prove people wrong.
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