The Dallas Stars are now in a great position to close out the series over the Minnesota Wild. However, their best is likely to come which means Dallas will have to be more prepared than usual against a Wild team that is increasingly playing like a Voltron made out of gas and half life war boys.
1. Hating Us Cuz They Ain't Us
I appreciate the gamesmanship so point to you Science. Not a point to the NHL Wild team, however. They certainly tried. Minnesota was barreling hard to create offense in the first period. For the first half, this game was looking exactly like game 3. Which is not good. There were a lot of issues with Dallas' transition game, individual mistakes, and a general lack of anything resembling pushback. Luckily they survived the Wild's early "onslaught".
2. What to Expect When Your Heart is Burning
The players generating chances and/or suppressing them came from the usual suspects. Stephen Johns continues to play a special kind of shutdown hockey; they kind that isn't synonymous with outdated notions of what actual defense is. The fact that Johns is physical, and can skate through adamantium is just a bonus.
3. Esophageal Reflux Rising
Minnesota would begin pouncing on Dallas thanks to some good breaks, and some very timely #Starsing. Alex Goligoski's play in particular led to some prime chances. I don't mention Goose to pick on him. He's had a rough few outings, and his overall play should regress to a mean I consider very good. But that pinch was yet another in a long line of ill advised pinches that led to a brilliant effort by Charlie Coyle, who I'd totally trade for Cody Eakin. We already know that Dallas is bad at 4 on 4 but did you know that they're also the second worst team in the league 4 on 4 in the playoffs? I know. I didn't have to go to War on Ice to check their scoring chances against, scoring chances against per 60, or scoring chance differential to know the truth either.
4. Handleczar Hero
Patrick Eaves has done it again. 2nd goal of the playoffs, both were power play goals! Stars are back in with 2-2 pic.twitter.com/gESYRsCzY0— Annie (@AnnieDevineTX) April 21, 2016
Credit to Dallas who outplayed Minnesota thanks to special teams. The Power Play finally woke up, which needed to happen if they wanted to avoid getting the chance to close out at home. Jason Spezza's skate, and Patrick Eaves' face ecosystem would pull the Stars ahead after being down twice.
5. Castigate and See
Stars: pic.twitter.com/CX0TofwRRs— Trey Hill (@squarerootof9) April 21, 2016
In the final period, Dallas would do what they rarely do, which is shut the gates Battle of Thermopylae style. Wait. Those guys died. I mean, Dallas would do what they rarely do, which is play stout defense. Eakin would end up playing with Patrick Sharp and Mattias Janmark while Jamie Benn finally got a 1C to play with as Jason Spezza and Patrick Eaves complimented the captain. It felt like a decent move without burying any one player. However, they were aided by whatever bank shot trapezoid praying puck selection they were going for to create offense. It was the most Wildian things ever watching elite players look to score from the ice girls' shovels. I get it: "put pucks on net". Didn't work for Michel Therrian, but I get it. However, constant resetting disrupts the flow of offense, and thankfully the Wild made it easier for Dallas than it would be if this were the Blues or Sharks.
6. Homecoming on the Horizon
And just like that, as the final seconds ticked to an utter crawl thanks in part to Minnesota's style, Dallas took game 4 of the series pushing the Wild to one game to within elimination. At home. Where the fans will surely be rocking and rolling. Playoff hockey is a love hate relationship. I was hating it in the second period. Now I love it. Expect these two emotions to rinse and repeat until bloodflow is comprised, Stars fans.