Memo to Stars, Ducks: Shut up and play


DALLAS -- OK, that's enough chitchat. Let's just shut up and play already.

Both of you.

That goes for you, Anaheim. Yeah, I'm talking to you, too, Dallas. (Feels like a conversation I have weekly at home with my kids.)

It's not that the verbal volleys after Game 3 weren't fun. Who doesn't love a good argument every once in a while?

But, come on. Didn't everyone know things would get more physical with Dallas desperate and the playoffs back in Texas for the first time in six years?

The Ducks felt the Stars crossed that invisible, yet real physical "line" in regard to captain Ryan Getzlaf, the guy with the facemask guarding his lacerated jaw. The Stars felt they were simply playing a desperate, physical game, one they saw played effectively by Corey Perry in Game 1.

You're both right. And you're both wrong.

Antoine Roussel shouldn't have kept going at Getzlaf after the linesmen broke the scrum up near the end of the second period Monday. He landed a couple of punches after the bell. But it's not as if Getzlaf didn't get a good punch at the face of Roussel, either, as everything started.

Desperate teams sometimes do things that aren't particularly nice in those hard areas of the ice. The Stars were hoping to get the Ducks' captain off his game. They wanted to rattle him, and those around him, a bit. The facemask was just the tool to do so.

Getzlaf was reflective the day after, understanding the need for self-discipline and calm amid the attempt at chaos. So were the Stars trying to get in his head?

"Trying to hit my head, how 'bout?" Getzlaf said. "I don't know about get in my head. I don't have room for them to get in my head. Trust me, I got enough s--- going on.

"Those are things that obviously we deal with and keep playing. And the best way to respond is to put together a good hockey game tomorrow and put ourselves in a good situation to win the series."

He's right, of course. The challenge is focusing on that when things are uncomfortable on the ice.

It's the playoffs, and that means guys shove a little harder. The punches have a little more power. The pain is, perhaps, a little more real. The officials are more apt to let the players decide things, not wanting to impact a series with an ill-advised or ill-timed whistle. So the "line" is as far as both sides can push it.

The Stanley Cup may be shiny and spotless, but you don't win it by playing that way. It takes a bunch of sweat, probably more than a little blood and a bundle of toughness. It's not supposed to be easy.

In the course of a seven-game series, it gets steadily more difficult. The Stars wanted to make sure it was tough on the Ducks on Monday. They had to get Game 3 or this series was effectively over. If that meant hurting the Ducks physically and mentally -- a punch after the whistle here and some chirping there -- then so be it.

The Ducks, after a short night's sleep, seemed to realize this fact. The complaints that were leveled right after the game didn't have an echo. The Ducks only talked about matching the Stars' physical play. And the Stars didn't care what Anaheim was saying. They got their first playoff win since Dallas resident George W. Bush was still president, and they weren't about to change an effective blueprint.

Get ready for more of the same in Game 4. And Game 5. And however long this series lasts ... and I’m betting it enters the Game 6 or even Game 7 territory.

Physical play will be ratcheted up even more on Wednesday night. Both teams better be ready to deal with it. It's the playoffs, after all.