Are you tired of hearing about the Dallas Stars' statement win over the Minnesota Wild last night? No? All righty, then. Mike Heika writes that the team delivered exactly the kind of game they needed to banish their playoff demons and show they mean business.
The Captain, it seems, knew they could do it.
"We showed what we can do," said captain Jamie Benn, who had a goal and two assists. "We're committed to play defense in here. I know there are people who doubt us, but we don't doubt ourselves."
Last night's shutout of the Minnesota Wild was more than a satisfying way to start the playoffs. It was the sign of a team that's putting everything together at just the right moment:
Benn scored the Stars' 25th empty net goal of the season. Dallas allowed just one goal scored when the opposition had its goalie pulled.
"That's a good sign," said [Kari] Lehtonen.
A very good sign. It means the Stars aren't biting their fingernails while the opposition is firing away late in a game. It also means that they aren't carrying doubt from game to game for a last-minute meltdown.
There's more at Mike's place. [SportsDayDFW]
Elsewhere in Heika, Mike rounds up some of the best quotes from last night's postgame press conference. [SportsDayDFW]
If you couldn't be at AAC last night, you missed the multimedia team's brilliant videogame-inspired playoffs intro. Michael Florek of the DMN has you covered. [SportsDayDFW]
Kari talked to the media after his second career NHL playoffs shutout.
And Razor enjoyed all this just as much as you did.
Mike Modano offered a succinct wrap-up of the Wild's situation.
No Parise, no Haula, no vanek... No chance— Mike Modano (@9modano) April 15, 2016
Allan Muir says these Stars have put the D[efense] back in Dallas. [Sports Illustrated]
And the Wild might have to make it through the playoffs without top scorer Zach Parise, who may need season-ending back surgery for a herniated disc. [Minneapolis Star-Tribune]
However you feel about the woo-birds, you sort of have to love this message to the Stars from the original woo-dude, Ric Flair.
It was a busy Thursday in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Let's sum up:
- The Washington Capitals used their scary power play to win a tough, physical 2-0 game against the Philadelphia Flyers (more on that last part further down). [Broad Street Hockey]
- John Tavares and Thomas Greiss helped the New York Islanders battle the Florida Panthers to a 5-3 victory. [Lighthouse Hockey]
- The San Jose Sharks got past a disallowed goal to win a seesawing Game 1 against the Los Angeles Kings, 4-3. [Fear the Fin]
CSN Philadelphia reports the Flyers have lost Sean Couturier for Round 1 after this huge hit from Alex Ovechkin. [CSN Philly]
Over at The Players' Tribune, Ryan Whitney and Mike Rupp have joined forces to create the only guide to the Eastern and Western Conference playoff match-ups you will ever need. Warning: NSFW due to LOLs.
Eleven seasons after his debut, Ovi is probably the greatest active NHL player who has never won a Stanley Cup. This could be the year the Caps change that. [Sports Illustrated]
The New York Rangers have called up goalie Magnus Hellberg even as they repeat Henrik Lundqvist has suffered no "lasting damage" from getting Marc Staal's stick in his eye during Wednesday night's loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. [Blueshirt Banter]
If Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk wants to hire an elite coach, he needs to, well, stop being himself, writes Ken Campbell. (Campbell goes on to suggest the Dallas Cowboys are comparatively fortunate that Jerry Jones is merely "wildly eccentric and rich.") [The Hockey News]
Also in THN: When you're an NHL captain, one of the biggest decisions you can make is choosing the teammate to whom you hand off the Stanley Cup. Read THN's suggestions for every playoff team. [THN]
Maxime Lagace was undrafted and Jason Dickinson went in the first round, but they both played key roles in getting the T-Stars to the playoffs.
Finally: Ladies and gentlemen, the #StanleyPupPlayoffs are the reason why Snapchat exists, and should. Check out these great mutt shots of Alex O-fetch-kin, Brent Furr-ns, Jason S-pet-zza and – wait for it! – Aleksander Barkov, plus many more.