For the first time since this blog started, the staff gets to predict what will happen in a playoff series for the Dallas Stars. It's been a long time coming, and regardless of what actually happens, the fact that this team with it's relative inexperience is going to garner some excellent experience to build off of.
Jim Nill said he wasn't interested in building a 'one-and-done' type team, but rather building a team that is setup to compete on a consistent basis. The experience of a playoff round will go a long way in the development of this core of guys like Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Alex Goligoski, Kari Lehtonen, Alex Chiasson, Val Nichushkin and Antoine Roussel.
So here they are, in all their glory. Our predictions for Stars vs Ducks.
(1) Anaheim Ducks vs (4) Dallas Stars
They won their super bowl. They got into the playoffs! But they lack a serious offensive threat behind the Jamie Benn line, and in a series where the Ducks have home-ice (matchup) advantage they're exposed to be what we know: A nice story and a nice group of mostly young guys who took a big step forward, but ultimately one that is way over-matched against the best conference's best team. Scoring will be an issue. The blue line in a grueling seven game series is an issue. Ducks in 5. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
Josh says he's being realistic and not necessarily optimistic...and I'm looking at this the same way. The Stars are now playing with house money and just getting to this point is a victory, and ideally I'd have no expectations one way or the other. But the fact is that the Ducks have questionable goaltending and have struggled at times against the speed attack of the Stars. This is going to be one of the more entertaining series of the first round and I can't wait to see how this team responds to the bright lights and pressures of the NHL postseason, and I genuinely feel the Stars matchup as well with the Ducks as any team they could have drawn. Dallas Stars will win this one in 6, at home.
Be still my beating heart, the Stars are back in the playoffs. And in the ‘everything old is new again' category, it's our old friend the Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks are like looking in a mirror, with a top-heavy offense and sometimes problematic defense, though they have a real question mark at defense with the choice between a struggling Jonas Hiller and rookie Josh Gibson.
I really think this comes down to who wins Game 1, and since the Stars are on a win every other game bit right now and lost to the Coyotes, I'm going with my heart and gut and saying Stars in 6.
I think being on the pacific division side has got to give this club a boost in the confidence department. Their possession game stacks up well against the California teams. Razor Reaugh is fond of saying you have to have two of three things to win: goaltending, defense and scoring. I think the Stars have the edge in the goaltending and their scoring can keep up. It's enough to get past the gaffes made on the blueline, and I think the fact that Anaheim doesn't have a set goaltender to rely upon right now will give the Stars the edge. Stars in 7.
Dallas beats the Ducks in 6 games on the strength of goaltending.
At the risk of being labeled a homer (and I'm sure EVERYBODY at DBD who picks the Stars in this series will be labeled as such outside the friendly confines of this blog), give me Stars in 6. Stars are the better puck possession team and have the better goaltender.
The Ducks have the highest PDO in the league in close games this season, ahead of only the Bruins and Avs (you make your own luck, whatever) and an absurd 10.7 shooting percentage in those situations, a full two percentage points higher than the next team. Not in to fancy stats? The Stars owned the Pacific Division during the regular season. I see no reason for that to stop. Dallas in 6.
The Stars have been pretty good against their former division foes in the Pacific Division. The Stars have played all their games against the Ducks this season without Lehtonen but with him back in the net there is a good chance of an upset here. I'll be optimistic, Stars in 6.
The Anaheim Ducks have been lucky, but you have to be good to be lucky, and you have to be great to be that lucky. This series all depends on which Dallas Stars team shows up. If they get that mix of speed and tight D, they could win, but if they don't, Anaheim will be very tough to beat. This one goes to 7 games, and is won by a weird goal.