We've run polls for the first two series that begin tonight, the opening night of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Now here's one for the third.
The Dallas Stars moved to the Central and their home time zone to reduce Western travel and the number of West Coast playoff trips like they experienced in the days of the old Pacific. So naturally, their first playoff series back in the Central is against Anaheim.
Am I alone in being surprised to realize this is the Stars' first playoff appearance since 2008? All the time we spend here grieving about the New York Islanders, and I didn't realize that the entire lifespan of Lighthouse Hockey was spent without the Stars being in the postseason.
Lindy Ruff is their fourth different coach during that span, but more important than Ruff is the fact they once again have a solvent owner, a good goalie, and a lethal one-two punch in Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin.
Their reward for squeaking into the playoffs on the final weekend to draw the Anaheim steamroller and its Army Of Goalies.
Series Schedule, TV
|Game||Date||Time (ET)||Western Conference First Round||National TV|
|1||Wed, Apr 16||10 p.m.||Dallas at Anaheim||NBCSN, TSN|
|2||Fri, Apr 18||10 p.m.||Dallas at Anaheim||NBCSN, TSN|
|3||Mon, Apr 21||9:30 p.m.||Anaheim at Dallas||NBCSN, TSN|
|4||Wed, Apr 23||8 p.m.||Anaheim at Dallas||CNBC, TSN|
|5*||Fri, Apr 25||10:30 p.m.||Dallas at Anaheim||NBCSN, TSN|
|6*||Sun, Apr 27||TBD||Anaheim at Dallas||TSN|
|7*||Tue, Apr 29||TBD||Dallas at Anaheim||TSN|
SB Nation Hangouts
Defending Big D | Anaheim Calling | Battle of California
What They're Saying
the Stars have a very good chance of upsetting given the chance to use their speed against the Ducks. Rather than being caught flat-footed, if the Ducks play shutdown defense anything like they did against Vancouver and San Jose, they will have no problem against Dallas. It's important that the Ducks don't scramble around to match the Stars' speed--rather, the Ducks need to slow down the play and force the Stars to play at Anaheim's pace.
Defending Big D talking itself into this:
when you look at the Stars when they are playing at their best and when Anaheim is playing at theirs, the two teams are very even as far as actual talent and ability to beat nearly any team they face.
Where the two teams have differed is that the Stars have been an incredibly streaky team -- both good and bad -- while the Ducks have managed to be fairly consistent over the course of the season. The Ducks also feasted on the Metropolitan division, while the Stars for some reason went belly up in most of those games in which they really should have won.
Hee hee, you guys lost to the Metro?
Variables, X-Factors and Other Cliches
- Looks like the Dane might start. If the Ducks refuse to play Jonas Hiller, can they please send him our way ASAP?
- Ryan Getzlaf is bald.
- Tyler Seguin is all grown up now. Like 37-47-84 fourth-in-the-league grown up.
- How will Valeri Nichushkin do in his first playoff exposure at age 19? He might line up with Benn and Seguin.
Anaheim has home ice, they've been the more more consistent team throughout the season, their goaltending goes three deep ... but you can take a possession view and say they are ripe for an upset. Make your pick, leave your rationale if you like, and make sure to enjoy some West Coast hockey because four-time-zone first-round playoff hockey is the best thing in the world.
Here is our playoff bracket pool, which you can still join until Friday. And here are previously posted series-by-series polls in the playoff stream:
Pick 'em: Penguins vs. Blue Jackets
Pick 'em: Lightning vs. Canadiens