The Dallas Stars are now just two wins away from putting the Minnesota Wild out of a misery they've earned. The series is looking every bit as one sided as fans and observers predicted, just minus the whole blowout part. They continue to hound the Wild with some uncharacteristically stout defensive play, and all the figurative stars are showing up for the Stars.
1. Donut Counter Alert
TYLER SEGUIN IN WARMUPS pic.twitter.com/JhW1CGBVdh— Pat Iversen (@Pat_Iversen) April 16, 2016
The whole Tyler Seguin situation is pretty much all there is to the hockey drama, which doesn't say much. It became increasingly clear that Seguin wasn't 100%. Which is frankly, quite alright. Playing limited minutes as the game wore on gave him time to get acclimated to the playoff atmosphere. Funnily enough, one of the most noticeable players early in the first was Valeri Nichushkin.
He led all forwards in Corsi For (tied with Patrick Sharp) in the first, and would do so until the end of the game. I'm a big fan of Nuke. He's a 21 year old with two functional seasons of professional development under his belt, yet you sense the hot takes surrounding him like the proverbial vulture. However, even i can admit that I decent case could be made for scratching him over Sceviour, Eaves, and Janmark, who have all been stellar down the stretch (and who have all scored more goals than him). Thankfully he pleaded his case last night, and it looked and sounded good.
2. Mild Resolutions
While the Stars once again dominated in shots on goal, and had the advantage in total shots through the first, it was clear that the Wild were at least making it difficult for Dallas. The presence of Erik Haula, who has had Dallas' number for awhile, seemed to make a modest difference. And Dubnyk, as usual, kept Minnesota in the game. In a lot of ways, game 2 was a replay of the first period in game 1, just with a Dallas opponent that didn't resembled a corpse.
3. At Least His Foot's Not in the Crease
NHL Situation Room explanation on that wild Roussel goal pic.twitter.com/nKlocSGTAH— Sean Leahy (@Sean_Leahy) April 17, 2016
Dallas finally broke through with Antoine Roussel's very controversial goal. I'm not interested in breaking this one down because this website has already done so in articulate fashion. What I will say is that for all of the Fak'Em line's chemistry, the chemistry seems binary. Either Roussel is helping out Radek Faksa, or Ales Hemsky is. Roussel and Hemsky tend to play like mutual friends coldly connecting on Facebook. So it's fitting that Hemsky's assist on Roussel's goal was the equivalent of accepting a friend request while stuck at the dentist's office.
4. Wild Dilutions
Maybe instead of whining about the Roussel goal, you could wonder why your team hasn't scored a goal in 100 minutes of play in this series.— Zesty McZestersen (@BrandonBibb_DBD) April 17, 2016
This will be the dilemma for the Wild going forward. They remind me of the baby Stars in Cedar Park: with a blueline that moves and thinks faster than the forwards, they can transition well, but when it's all business in the offensive or defensive zone, there's not the kind of synchronicity needed to take it to the next level. This series is probably tough for Wild fans. And no, I'm not actually that sympathetic.
5. Feast Mode Engaged
Jamie Benn continuing the proud Dallas hockey tradition of stealing everything Minnesota holds dear to their hearts— Wyatt Arndt (@TheStanchion) April 17, 2016
That is now goals in six of his eight playoff games. What? You want me to shut up so you can watch it again instead? Fair enough.
Benn is truly one of the more unique talents in the game, and he does it without the usual tools that define hockey super stars (no wonder so many scouts got it wrong his draft year).
6. Nino Nieder Stridor
Perhaps one of the more amusing plays in the entire playoffs thus far was Jason Spezza chewing up precious icetime against the Wild. So I'll just lay this out there. I don't like Nino Niederreiter much. He's a dirty player who has already gotten his arms and elbows up high against Dallas in the playoffs (first Eakin, then Faksa). So when Erik Haula is screaming at him to pursue Spezza because he doesn't have the sense to do so, it brings a smile to my face. With the chances the Wild got later, that extra minute and a half the Wild wasted was probably critical. On to some stray observations:
- I won't get my Kari skeptic license revoked, but it feels good to at least ponder doing so. He didn't need to be anything other than present in game 1. But here the Wild actually had some quality chances, and Kari was crisp with his movement and anticipation. Kudos!
- Radek Faksa continues to impress. I'm delighted to hear mainstream hockey analysts praise him and his story because, frankly, he deserves the limelight.
- Colton Sceviour was another player who made the most of his limited ice time. Despite being on the 4th line, he was tied for 3rd on the team in individual shots (and 6th overall in shot differential).
- If I can be ornery for a second, Jamie Benn, despite his output, is still struggling on the Corsi clock. Gee I wonder why?