Home NHL NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Preview: Stars vs Wild

NHL Stanley Cup Playoff Preview: Stars vs Wild

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Western Conference

Dallas Stars (1) vs Minnesota Wild (WC2)

Season Series

GAME

DATE

stars wild
1 2/9/16 4 (OT)

3

2

1/9/16 1 2
3 12/21/15 6

3

4

11/28/15 4 (OT) 3
5 11/14/15 3 (OT)

2

 

Leading Scorers

stars

G

A PTS wild G A

PTS

J BENN

41 48 89 M KOIVU 17 39

56

T SEGUIN

33 40 73 Z PARISE 25 28

53

J SPEZZA

33 30 63 R SUTER 8 43

51

J KLINGBERG

10 48 58 M GRANLUND 13 31

44

P SHARP

20 35 55 N NIEDERREITER 20 23

43

 

Goaltending

stars

WINS

GAA SV% wild WINS GAA

SV%

A NIEMI

25 2.67 .905 D DUBNYK 32 2.33

.918

 LEHTONEN

25 2.76 .906 D KUEMPER 6 2.43

.913

 

Team Stats

CATEGORY

stars wild

PP% – LEAGUE RANK

22.1 (4TH)

18.5 (15TH)

PK% – LEAGUE RANK

82.3 (10TH)

77.9 (27TH)

GF/GP

3.23

2.60

GA/GP

2.78

2.49

FOW%

50.2

52.5

SHOTS/GP

32

29

SA/GP

28.9

28.6

 

Offense

Statistically speaking this isn’t close. Then again there aren’t many NHL clubs that match up well with the Dallas Stars when it comes to lighting the lamp. Not this season. Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin picked up right where they left off last year. With the addition of Patrick Sharp and the resurgence of Jason Spezza, the Stars will be a difficult out for the Minnesota Wild. Dallas has found scoring on all four lines, Ales Hemsky, Cody Eakin and the youngster Valeri Nichushkinin have all chipped in nicely, especially during the final week of the season.

The Wild struggled mightily up front. Specifically Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville, combining for just 29 goals collectively. They have both played deep into the playoffs while members of the Buffalo Sabres and will need to show up and contribute if the Wild intend to make this a series. Zach Parise pumped in 25 goals while Nino Niederreiter and Charlie Coyle also hit the 20 goal plateau. The most consistent threat this year was Mikko Koivu who turned in his best season statistically since 2010-11.

Edge: Dallas

Defense

This is an area where the Stars are thought to have been thin. They added veteran and Stanley Cup winner Johnny Oduya last summer to help round out the defensive core. He had a so-so year. If Dallas had a weakness, it was on the blue line. Only five d-men finished with 60 or more games played. Even still, they have a couple of good puck moving defenseman in Alex Gogligoski and John Klingberg who both finished top 7 in scoring for Dallas. They acquired Kris Russell from Calgary before the trade deadline. He has been a much needed physical presence and took some of the pressure off Oduya.

The Minnesota blue line is led by captain Ryan Suter, Marco Scandella, Matt Dumba and Jared Spurgeon. The latter might be young but they have valuable playoff experience. Dumba had his share of strggles throughout the year as did Scandella. The best defenseman was their goaltender.

Edge: Dallas

Goaltending

Devan Dubnyk has turned in two back-to-back quality seasons for Minnesota. He is the Wild MVP and will need to be even better if Minnesota has any plans of moving onto round two. He will be tested early and often.

The Stars feature a two-goaltender system that is becoming more popular throughout the league. Last summer they brought in Annti Niemi to help take some of the load off of Kari Lehtonen who struggled in 2014-15. The two finished with almost identical numbers. Each had 25 victories. Niemi has a Stanley Cup ring and has played and won big games with the Chicago Blackhawks. That earned him a huge contract with the San Jose Sharks but unfortunately the same success did not follow and the team ultimately let him walk. At this time of the year goaltending is everything. This is where the Wild have been most consistent.

Edge: Minnesota

Special Teams

Dallas in a landslide, both with the man advantage and while short. Game plan for Minnesota is simple, stay out of the box.

Edge: Dallas

Coaching

No reason to compare resumes between Stars head coach Lindy Ruff and John Torchetti, interim HC for the Wild. He took over for the fired Mike Yeo February 13th. Ruff has been to the Cup finals as HC with the Sabres in 99 (loss to Dallas) and as an assistant with the Florida Panthers (loss to Colorado). This is by far the most talented team he’s been associated with, not counting his work as an assistant with Team Canada.  Torchetti did win a Stanley Cup while serving on Joel Queeneville’s staff in Chicago (2010).

Edge: Dallas

Injuries

Tyler Seguin has missed four weeks with an Achilles injury. His status for game 1 is uncertain. Seguin joined his teammates for practice Monday for the first time since sustaining the injury. He took part in non-contact drills. Stars Coach Ruff would not rule him out and called Monday’s skate “just the next step” in Seguin’s recovery process.

For Minnesota forwards Zach Parise and Thomas Vanek are both dealing with injuries and could potentially miss Game 1. Defenseman Jonas Brodin is still out with a broken foot. His return is still up in the air.

Rivalry

Sure the Dallas Stars were the former North Stars that moved from Minnesota back in 1993 but that’s as close as these two teams come to a rivalry. There isn’t any bad blood or scores to settle. These two teams will get right down to business come Thursday night. Current Minnesota assistant coach Darryl Sydor was a member of the Stars ’99 Stanley Cup winning team. The team that defeated Ruff in Buffalo. By the way, one of Ruff’s assistants is James Patrick, he was a defenseman on that Sabres squad.

Outlook

The Stars went 22-12-7 on the road and finished 8-2 down the stretch. They have been playing at such a high level since the season began and that should continue in this series as Dallas is looking to make a deep run. The Stars went 4-1 during the regular season with 3 games decided in OT. Assuming Seguin is healthy enough to play this should be a quick series. I’m not expecting a six or seven game series but this is a Wild team that enjoyed an upset a year ago against Colorado. You may see a game or two go into sudden death OT, but the Stars will finish off Minnesota in five.

wolfFrank Wolf

@wolf3328

fromthe300level.com

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