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Dallas Stars Daily Links: Jamie Benn's Hart Trophy Case Is Heating Up

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Elliotte Friedman states the case for The Captain's candidacy. Plus, NHL.com names the Stars' postseason X-factor, and Dallas sports stars support each other sartorially.

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Even as the hockey world prepares for the Stanley Cup playoffs, professional hockey writers are being asked to complete their ballots for the league's postseason awards. Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet offered some insight into the process, and into the increasingly high-profile presence of Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn in these ever-so-private conversations.

Without revealing whether he voted for Benn or Patrick Kane, Friedman did indicate that his pick came down to the 2015 and 2016 Art Ross winners. He also made the case for Benn's candidacy.

Without Seguin, who could be a second- or third-team NHL All-Star, Dallas went 8-2, with every one of those victories coming in regulation. St. Louis also went 8-2, with one win in overtime. There were games when Benn's possession numbers were great and he didn't score much. There were others when those underlying totals were ugly but he found a way to get on the sheet.

Whatever the case, Benn racked up nine points in those 10 games. The Stars' margin to hold onto the division and avoid a first-round meeting with the dangerous Blackhawks was very slim because the Blues were so good. The captain delivered when Dallas needed it most.

There's more, including an observation on the "Kari Lehtonen or Antti Niemi" decision, in Friedman's latest 30 Thoughts. [Sportsnet]

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The last time Ales Hemsky went to the playoffs was 10 years ago, with the Edmonton Oilers (if you can imagine). He says it's good to be back. [Stars Inside Edge]

Here's another little highlight from Mark Stepneski's Tuesday update.

The Stars are even more ready than you are to just drop the puck already, says head coach Lindy Ruff.

Dan Rosen of NHL.com breaks down the Stars-Minnesota Wild series and makes his prediction for the winner.

Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn are two big reasons why Dallas will win the Cup, predicts David Satriano.

Greg Wyshynski ranks the must-see factor of every first-round playoff series; Stars-Wild doesn't have the makings of a seven-game affair, "but any series involving Antoine Roussel has the possibility of some controversy." [Puck Daddy]

Meanwhile, Valeri Nichushkin could take the next big step in his career this playoffs season, says Steve Hunt.

The playoffs start tonight, and here's the schedule:

More first-round predictions, these from NHL.com. [NHL]

And because it's never too early to be thinking about the NHL Draft, here's the final report from Central Scouting.

Luke Fox provides a current list of NHL playoff-team injuries, from the nearly-there to the out-for-the-count. [Sportsnet]

And Scott Cullen posts TSN's final NHL power rankings for 2015-16. The Stars make the top 5 – find out where. [TSN]

New Ottawa Senators GM Pierre Dorion wasted no time firing head coach Dave Cameron and his assistants. [Ottawa Citizen]

Meanwhile, Toronto Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan says the team has "gotten rid of a lot of entitlement," and that has helped make it an attractive destination again. [Sportsnet]

The Texas Stars have two more regular-season games before they prepare for the sixth Calder Cup run in their seven-year history.

The T-Stars will play the San Diego Gulls (Anaheim Ducks) in the first round, but home-ice advantage is yet to be decided. [100 Degree Hockey]

It's been quite a year for forward Matej Stransky, from a healthy scratch on opening night to his best professional season ever. Sean Shapiro devotes his latest podcast to the Stars' other Czech mate. [Wrong Side of the Red Line]

The Idaho Steelheads have announced their 2016 Kelly Cup roster, which includes familiar Stars prospects Emil Molin and Philippe Desrosiers among the active players, as well as the playoffs-eligible Cole Ully, Branden Troock, Jack Campbell and Maxime Lagace. [Idaho Steelheads]

Meanwhile, the league provides a preview of the Kelly Cup quarterfinals, including the Steelheads' match-up with the reigning champions, the Allen Americans. [ECHL]

The league also provides the deets for watching the playoffs online.

In other ECHL news, former Star Richard Matvichuk, head coach of the Missouri Mavericks, will receive the 2015-16 John Brophy Award as the league's coach of the year. [ECHL]

Finally: Dallas Cowboys running back Darren McFadden is feeling the local love and deep into the Stanley Cup spirit. Enjoy his new facial decor.