Dallas Stars Daily Links: Bubble Life as a Black Ace

Thomas Harley is soaking in every moment of this playoff run — even if he isn’t actually playing in any of the games. Plus, the Lighting win the East, why there aren’t more families in the bubble, and more.

One of the most fascinating stories when it comes to the Stanley Cup Playoffs are the “Black Aces,” young players who join the team and practice with them but rarely see any playoff action. You might think they’re there just for some extra warm bodies, but the experience is invaluable for the players’ development — just ask Thomas Harley:

“Being here, I can tell I’ve gotten way better,” he said. “Just competing against NHL guys day in and day out has brought my game up. Even with the black aces, you have to compete to win the battle every single time. If you don’t bring your best game every day, you’re gonna get walked around; you’re gonna get embarrassed out there.”

To put the cherry on top, some of the aces have actually seen playoff action — Jake Oettinger has dressed as the backup for most of the playoffs and played for a period last round against Vegas, while Harley got to go up against the Colorado Avalanche in the Round Robin. The takeaway? Playoff hockey is intense:

“I played pre-season and I played in one of the playoff games and there was no comparison between the two: that game against Colorado was nuts,” [Harley] said. “It was so much faster and so much harder than in pre-season. It just shows how hard it is to win a Stanley Cup. If every game is like that, it’s an absolute grind to win it.”

You can read more about Harley’s time in the bubble from Ryan Kennedy here.

Stars Stories

The Stars are just four(!) wins away from a potential Stanley Cup victory. They wouldn’t have made it this far were it not for Rick Bowness:

How have the Stars been killing time in the bubble? Matthew DeFranks has your answers:

Everyone, say hello to Justin Dowling’s daughter, Perri:

Around the League

As you’re most likely aware of by now, the Tampa Bay Lightning won in overtime last night to win the Eastern Conference Championship:

Unlike the Stars, the Lightning had no superstitions about touching the Prince of Wales Trophy:

Here’s the full schedule for the Stanley Cup Finals, including a back-to-back to minimize time in the bubble (and avoid Sunday Night Football):

Now that its the Finals, expect a lot of fans to jump on the Dallas bandwagon. Down Goes Brown makes his case for which teams’ fans should cheer for the Stars (and which ones shouldn’t):

The Lightning are the undisputed favorites to win it all, but are they too worn out to see things through to the end?

Justin Dowling might have his family in the bubble, but the same can’t be said for most remaining players:

Edmonton will play bubble host again for this year’s World Juniors, but scouting the 2021 draft class will still be difficult:


Alexander Radulov. His name is Alexander Radulov. And there’s a million goals he hasn’t scored. Just you wait. Just you wait.