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Dallas Stars Daily Links: Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky Will Fight You for Another Shot at the Stanley Cup

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Two of Dallas' trickiest want to keep the playoffs wagon rolling. Plus, another dangerous hit rocks the Caps-Pens series, and another, earlier Stars team makes a fine example of underdog pluck.

For Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky, it's been a long time between playoff drinks. They'll have another.
For Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky, it's been a long time between playoff drinks. They'll have another.
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Stars have put together an interesting mix on their strongest team in years. And the young leaders and the rookie sensations, the experienced Cup winners and the gritty depth players all bring something different and valuable to the brew.

In Ales Hemsky and Jason Spezza, the team also has players who are intimately familiar with how it feels to have long, distinguished NHL careers yet suffer extended, empty playoff droughts. Mark Spector talked with both of them about their past Stanley Cup chases and what this new one means:

"When you're younger you don't think about it: ‘I'm in the playoffs, it'll happen all the time...,'" Hemsky said. "Now, it's a one-time chance. We have a good team, and we can do some damage. The feeling drives you."

...

"One game decides if everyone will cheer for you, or if everyone will forget. Edmonton was crazy. Then we lost, we come back home, and summer starts. Everyone goes back to their lives."

Hemsky and Spezza were born two months apart in the summer of 1983. Now, at the ripe age of going-on-33, they're each finding their own ways to pass on what they've learned to their young teammates:

As veterans in Dallas now, Hemsky has taken young Czech Radek Faksa under his wing, and he won't let the younger compatriot take this opportunity lightly. Spezza had a mentor like that in Ottawa, a veteran defenceman named Curtis Leschyshyn who was 33-years-old when Spezza was 20 and just heading into what would become his best winning years.

Spezza shakes his head now when he talks about how much wisdom Leschyshyn had to impart.

"I wish I'd have listened more," Spezza says. "I always thought, ‘Look at this 35-, 36-year-old guy stretching every day for an hour taking care of himself. Why would you need to do that?' Now, I'm almost 33 and I'm the last guy to leave the rink every day because you've got to keep yourself going.

"Now I'm that guy."

There's much more under the link. [Sportsnet]

*****

Don't forget to check out Mark Stepneski's Game 3 preview, which includes your practice update video. [Stars Inside Edge]

Courtesy of the NHL, we also have a start time for Game 5 in Dallas on Saturday:

KDFW-TV sports photographer Chris Hanks shared a photo of this welcome sight yesterday afternoon. (You're probably reading this at work, so try not to weep out loud.)

And just like that, Mike Heika brought us down to Earth: Neither player traveled to Missouri yesterday. Yet Lindy Ruff offered the cryptic observation that "they have flights into St. Louis every day." Intrigue! [SportsDayDFW]

Meanwhile, Ken Hitchcock visited The Afternoon Show with Tim Cowlishaw and Mark Mosley to talk about how much he still loves Dallas and his impressions of the Stars-Blues series: "There's not one aspect we're in control of. We're still trying to grab something and hang on to it." [SportsDayDFW]

Jared Clinton tries to figure out which of the Stars' goalies will start against the St. Louis Blues in Scottrade Center. [The Hockey News]

"Dallas Goalie Drama"? More like a non-story, says Billy Jaffe of "NHL Tonight," on the question of who starts for the Stars tonight in Scottrade Center: "They're so used to changing netminders that they're fine" with playing either Kari Lehtonen or Antti Niemi. [NHL]

Elsewhere, Alex Pietrangelo has already been on ice for the fourth-most minutes in the playoffs, and he may be skating even more as the series moves to the Gateway City. [CBC]

How do Dallas and St. Louis match up in non-hockey ways? Matt Pryor takes a closer look at their cultures and makes the necessary arbitrary decisions. [The Hockey Writers]

Other teams are still playing, you know. Although only two of them were in action last night in Round 2:

You know you want to see that Kuhnhackl goal again, so let's just roll the tape. Pixels. Whatever.

Here's another piece of video that'll be getting a lot of replays: Kris Letang leaving his feet to put a late hit on Marcus Johansson, which got a two-minute minor last night but could earn him a suspension today. [USA Today]

Coincidentally, last night's Caps loss happened in the first game of a three-game suspension for Brooks Orpik, who told the media his punishment was fair: "It's a split-second decision you make, and you've just got to live with it." [Washington Post]

His coach, however, is crying foul: Barry Trotz made no bones about suggesting the league has favored the Pens in the way it dealt with Orpik's transgression. [TSN]

Colin Fleming uses the 1990-91 Minnesota North Stars as an example of how far belief can take an underdog team in a tough playoffs season. [Sports Illustrated]

I refuse to believe no one has done this until now: From Brooklyn Hipster to Night's Watch and everything before and after, Hemal Jhaveri examines the five stages of Joe Thornton's playoff beard. [USA Today]

The NHL wraps up its reveals for regular-season awards contenders with the Calder Trophy, and there are no surprises among the finalists: Shayne Gostisbehere, Connor McDavid and Artemi Panarin.

Sean Leahy takes a closer look at each of the Calder candidates. [Puck Daddy]

NHL.com's mock draft experts have spoken, and they still say Auston Matthews will be the No. 1 prospect in this year's NHL draft. [NHL]

Meanwhile, the chillest interview skills may already belong to Patrik Laine, who did an entire Facetime chat with Daren Millard while lying down (full disclosure: It was 3 a.m. in Finland at the time). [Sportsnet]

Finally: They are here (and you're not).

So feel free to join your fellow Stars fanatics at tonight's official Game 3 watch party.