Dallas Stars: Antoine Roussel

Five things Stars must do to upset Ducks

April, 15, 2014
Apr 15
6:05
PM CT
It's not very often that a No. 1 seed is beaten in the first round of the NHL playoffs, but it's not unprecedented, either. In fact, a No. 8 seed -- Los Angeles -- won the Stanley Cup a few years ago. So what do the Dallas Stars need to do to pull off the upset of the Anaheim Ducks? Here are five things they need to do:

1. Win the goaltending battle. It's odd that the Ducks are the top seed and have major questions in goal. Jonas Hiller was disappointing in the final month of the season, forcing coach Bruce Boudreau to go with his younger netminders in Frederik Andersen and John Gibson, who won all three of his starts with a .954 save percentage. Stars coach Lindy Ruff is betting Boudreau goes with Andersen because of how much Hiller has struggled. But that gives the advantage in nets to the Dallas Stars and goalie Kari Lehtonen. He's played well this season and is seeking redemption for his quick and rough playoff experience with Atlanta.

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2. Utilize their speed and puck possession skills. The Stars annoy opponents because they are always on the go. If you're not ready to skate, the Stars will beat you. Dallas is the faster team and if the Stars can drive the tempo up and control the puck, something they are very good at doing, they can make things difficult on the Ducks. Ruff's style with this team is to grab the puck and create scoring chances. And with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin on the top line, they have the ability to do that.

3. Get scoring from more than Benn and Seguin. Everyone in the NHL knows how good Benn and Seguin are, but the Stars also have a second line that can do some damage in Antoine Roussel, Cody Eakin and Ryan Garbutt. All three will be playing in the playoffs for the first time. How they respond will go a long way toward determining whether the Stars pull the upset. The trio has played well down the stretch in pressure games and they look ready.

4. Do the job on special teams. The two squads are fairly even on the power play and penalty kill, but if you look inside the numbers you'll find that the Stars did a better job in both categories in the last few weeks. The Stars finished 23rd on the power play (Anaheim is 22nd) and 21st on the penalty kill (Anaheim is 13th, but not much higher than Dallas on percentage), but that was not indicative of how they played when the games mattered most as the season wound down. The Stars moved the puck well on the power play and found shooting lanes and they were smart, but aggressive on the penalty kill. They'll have to do both in this series.

As an added part to No. 4, the Stars' defense, inconsistent this season, must avoid too many costly turnovers. That's area that's been an issue for this team.

5. Don't squint under the playoff lights. This is a new experience for 12 of the Stars' players. Lehtonen has just two playoff games to his name. How the club reacts to the pressure, especially early in the series, is critical. If Dallas can stay calm and competitive in the first 20 minutes on Wednesday, that could set an important tone for the rest of the series. Anaheim has been here before. The Stars haven't played a postseason game since 2008. They've got a new GM, coach, owner and a gaggle of new players since then. They can't let the newness of the experience overwhelm them.

Rich Peverley's texts propel Stars

March, 12, 2014
Mar 12
12:42
AM CT
St. Louis – Dallas Stars coach Lindy Ruff fired off a text to Rich Peverley right after the game Tuesday night at Scottrade Center to tell him the Stars had beaten the top team in the National Hockey League, the St. Louis Blues.

A text came right back onto Ruff’s smartphone from Peverley, and read, simply:

“Keep rolling, and we’ll see you tomorrow.”

[+] EnlargeDallas Stars bench
Billy Hurst/CSM/AP ImagesIt wasn't easy to put aside what happened on Monday, but hearing from Rich Peverley helped the Stars do what he asked: Keep rolling.
Yes indeed: Keep rolling.

The Stars put the scary events of Monday night aside -- Peverley collapsing on the Stars bench at American Airlines Center and needing life-saving medical treatment -- and beat the NHL’s top team 3-2 in overtime.

Jamie Benn scored the game winner with 1:18 left in overtime, sniping a shot over Ryan Miller’s glove on assists from Trevor Daley and Tyler Seguin.

Benn and Seguin were on either side of linemate Peverley after they came off on a line change when Peverley collapsed Monday night.

“Last night was a scary situation; today’s a new day,” said Benn, the Stars’ captain. “We were thinking about Rich back home, but I thought we did a great job getting mentally ready for this game. We’re still in a playoff hunt, a good playoff push. We found a way to get to points.”

The victory was the Stars’ third in a row, and they are 8-2-1 in their last 11 games. They’re 32-23-10 for 74 points, in eighth in the Western Conference and in the second and final wild-card playoff spot. The Blues dropped to 44-14-7 for 95 points, first by two points over Anaheim in the NHL standings.

Putting aside the traumatic events “wasn’t easy,” Benn said. One of their teammates, Alex Chiasson, was so emotionally distraught by the event that he was hospitalized Monday night rather than traveling to St. Louis. Still, the Stars were able to focus in on the game, well fought throughout.

“It hit our guys pretty good last night,” Benn said. “I thought we did a job in coming in here and getting two points in a tough building.”

In addition to scoring the winner, Benn sprung Antoine Roussel for his breakaway goal in the second period. Colton Sceviour, one of two players called up from the AHL's Texas Stars to fill out the roster Tuesday, scored the other goal.

Sceviour wasn’t sure what was awaiting him when he joined the team. The incident hit him as well, and he was only watching the game on television.

“You never know what to expect in this situation,” he said. “There’s not a page in a book about how to handle a situation like this. The fact that he texted a lot of guys and told them he was doing well, the fact he was stable, helped guys put that aside for a couple hours and focus on hockey for a little bit. That was huge.”

Goalie Tim Thomas finished with 28 saves for his second win in a Stars uniform. Thomas watched Benn’s winner unfold from the other end of the ice.

“When I saw the puck come to Jamie there, I was like, ‘Bury it,’ and he put it top shelf,” Thomas said. “Awesome job.”

Thomas has only been with the Stars a week, arriving at the trade deadline from Florida. He played his first game Saturday when Kari Lehtonen suffered a concussion, and had the curtailed start Monday before finally playing a full game -- and then some -- Tuesday.

“It helps that Rich is doing really well,” Thomas said. “I’m certainly not trying to underplay anything that happened to Rich, you know, but under the circumstances, I’m going to look at the positives that he’s doing well, and I’m sure he was cheering us on. He’d want us to go out and win the game, and that’s what we did.”

Peverley’s texts Monday from the hospital helped immensely, according to Thomas.

“That set a lot of guys at ease; it did me anyway,” Thomas said.

Likewise, the text Tuesday to Ruff was the best news of the day.

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