DALLAS -- The Dallas Stars are clearly comfortable at American Airlines Center. They finished the season with a 10-2-1 record in their final 13 games at home, helping them end a six-year postseason drought.
"We’ve played real good hockey, especially the last 15, 20 games here," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "In front of our crowd, I think that added energy will help our team."
But the playoffs are a different atmosphere completely. And Stars fans haven't had a chance to cheer their team in the playoffs since a loss to Detroit in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals on May 19, 2008. The Stars expect the building to be fired up.
"I’m excited," said Stars center Tyler Seguin, who has 42 points at AAC this season, tied for seventh-most in the NHL. "[It will] be interesting to see the atmosphere, especially with these fans not seeing playoff hockey in a while. I think everyone’s very excited."
Ruff also gets the benefit of last line change, providing him more of an opportunity to get the matchups on the ice that he wants. But more than anything strategic, it's the idea that practicing in Frisco, sleeping in their own beds and going out with a home crowd behind them will provide the Stars with an important boost.
"It’s going to be a great atmosphere," said Jamie Benn, who is tied with Seguin at 42 points at home this season. "Obviously, our fans have backed us up all year, so it’s going to be fun to go out there and play in front of them. It’s our first playoff game here in a while, so we’re looking forward to it."
Dallas was 23-11-7 at home during the regular season and seemed to play better in Dallas as the season progressed. They're hoping the comfort level they have in the building helps them get their first win in this series.