The Dallas Stars are back in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Fans rejoiced when they clinched on home ice Wednesday. There are 16 playoff spots and the Stars are the 15th. Their prize is playing the Calgary Flames as a First Round opponent. The Arizona Coyotes erupted against the Nashville Predators in the 11th hour. Coming back down 4-0 in the final game of the season to win 5-4 set the matchups. This means the Stars play the Flames while the Predators get the Colorado Avalanche. The Stars are back off to the Pacific Division again against a powerful Flames opponent. There is a tough road ahead for the Stars. Here’s a look at Stars/Flames Round One.
The Stars qualified when regulation time ran down against the Arizona Coyotes in game #81. They blew a 3-0 lead heading into the 3rd period and lost in overtime. This bummer of a loss didn’t dampen the mood because they still clinched. They got the final point which eliminated the Vegas Golden Knights. Everything pointed to a matchup with the Avalanche. The Predators scored four goals in the first seven minutes of their game in Arizona. Even if they only got one point means they would play Calgary instead as Wildcard #1. The Coyotes clawed their way back to score five unanswered to set the matchups.
Calgary is Deadly
Calgary has a team that knows how to light the fires offensively. Their top line scored 124 goals. 10 players scored 10 or more goals this season. Their goal differential is second best at +85. They are third best in goals-against. Two of their players scored over 100 points. They can score and prevent scoring.
A bruiser to watch out for is Milan Lucic. Flames players know how to throw a hit. It’s worth noting that these teams met in 2020 with the Stars winning in six games. If you remember that series the Flames were seconds away from a 3-1 lead until Joe Pavelski tied Game 4. Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk, and Elias Lindholm are huge threats that score at will. Jacob Markstrom also had a 2.22 GAA, 3rd best among goalies who played more than 10 games. Jake Oettinger has a lot coming towards him over the next four to seven games. His mark wasn’t bad either with a 2.53 GAA.
This is Jason Robertson’s first time in the playoffs and it’s his time to shine. His 41 goals this year led the Stars. Depth scoring can play a factor too. Andrew Mangiapane was a threat in the last playoff series. One other thing is the longevity of Flames players. Four Stars players played all 82 games. Eight Flames players played all 82, and three more played 80 and 81. The Stars have a tough challenge ahead.
If Stars Win
Let’s say the Stars win. The Stars are a Pacific Division competitor now. They play the winner of the Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles Kings series. The Dallas Stars have never played in the playoffs against the Kings (Minnesota North Stars did in 1968). It’s a different story against the Oilers.
This Year is Different
Saying this year is different sounds cliché but we haven’t seen the playoffs like this before. All eight playoff teams in the Eastern Conference recorded over 100 points for the first time in history. The Stars are in with 98 points. Anything can happen in the playoffs and remember, it lasts for two whole months. Lots of stories will develop until then but who knows who will play in the Stanley Cup Final.
This is the first playoff action for the Stars since Game 6 of the 2020 Stanley Cup Final. We all remember how long of a journey that was. The American Airlines Center is hosting two playoffs at the same time with the Dallas Mavericks too. Expect the building to be rocking for both of these teams. Dallas sports fans are looking for another champion for the 2nd time this century.
The Stars begin their series against the Flames on Tuesday, May 3rd.