The Dallas Stars season is officially over. One series too soon for the boys in green, the organization, and the devoted hockey fans in Texas.
Many people, including myself, predicted the Stars to go all the way and hoist Lord Stanley.

If one thing is for sure, it’s that professional sports is full of surprises.

While entertaining, most did not envision the Stars meeting the Edmonton Oilers in the Western Conference Final. That vision seemed too grand and unlikely.

Hockey titans are not supposed to go to war in the third stage. Fate had other plans and turned each franchise toward each other in a matchup unseen for almost twenty years.

Dallas won five consecutive playoff series (’98, ’99, ’00, ’01, ’03) against Edmonton. Unfortunately, the Stars could not make it six.

Here are three reasons.

1) Special Teams

Special teams was different than the first four games of this series. After a total of 15 power play opportunities were awarded and none converted, the Oilers tore through the Stars playing on the man advantage in Game Five.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins tallied two power-play goals. Dallas, on the other hand, was unable to convert on either of its two power plays. 

2) Top-Six Scoring Dried Up

Jason Robertson recorded a hat trick in Game Three. Rope Hintz assisted on two of those goals in his return from injury. Joe Pavelski and Matt Duchene have yet to register a single point. Tyler Seguin has four points (two goals, two assists) in the series, scoring twice in Game One and adding two assists in Game Three. The Stars edged the Oilers in Games One and Three. 

It’s been the young forwards leading the way through the majority of the series. Wyatt Johnston scored the club’s only goal in Friday’s 3-1 loss and has five points against Edmonton (three goals, two assists). Fellow 21-year-old Logan Stankoven assisted on Johnston’s tally and garnered an assist in Game Three. 

Dallas needed more offense from the more experienced top-six to win the series. 

3) Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl + Help 

No matter what, McDavid and Draisaitl are two of the best players in the league. McDavid, the universally labeled best current player in the world, and Draisaitl, arguably the second best, were ready for the big stage this season. McDavid leads all skaters with 31 points. Who is second? That’s Mr. Leon Draisaitl with 28 points. McDavid found gaps in Dallas’ defense and capitalized, potting 10 points in a six-game series. Meanwhile, Draisaitl found his scoring touch at the worst time: late in the series beginning in Game Four. 

They finally had a supporting cast who could not only skate with them but hold their own as well. General Manager Ken Holland, the architect of the ’02 and ’08 Cup-winning Detroit Red Wings squads, brought in the right pieces at the trade deadline. 


Bright Future

The Stars have a bright future. Johnston and Stankoven. Mavrik Bourque and Thomas Harley.  The forwards about ready to break through the pipeline could be key pieces in next year’s playoff run.

Much like last year, the Stars had to battle an opponent in a series built for the Stanley Cup Final in the round before the Stanley Cup Final. Dallas is talented. However…

Edmonton features McDavid and Draisaitl steering the locker room, a shadow of Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr or Wayne Gretzky and Jari Kurri.
How many playoff games did those pairs win? 

PHOTO: Getty Images

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