For the third time in the last five years, DFW is set to enjoy the thrills of the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
After topping the Minnesota Wild 4-2 in the first round, the Dallas Stars are set for a conference semifinal matchup vs. the upstart Seattle Kraken starting Tuesday.
Dallas went down 2-1 after notably losing star center Joe Pavelski due to a likely concussion on a controversial hit from Minnesota defnseman Matt Dumba in game one, but took a stranglehold on the series over the final two games, out scoring the Wild 8-1.
Here’s a look at some of the storylines as the teams prepare to drop the puck Tuesday night.
Hintz, Seguin and Benn are hot- can Robertson catch up?
Stars forward Roope Hintz seized his moment in round one, scoring five goals and a team-high 12 points, including a hat trick in game two. That gave Stars fans plenty to buzz about, but perhaps the most refreshing thing to see was the performance of Dallas’ highest paid players- Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin.
At age 33 and 31 respectively, the two combined for a highlight reel power play goal in game four and did an incredible job replacing Joe Pavelski production with ten total points.
Now the question, if Pavelski returns, how does that affect the forward lines? Dallas will also be looking to get Jason Robertson, who broke the franchise record with 109 points in the regular season, going in round 2.
The darlings of the NHL Playoffs along with Florida thus far, Seattle enters its first ever second round after making the playoffs for the first time in its two year history.
The Kraken proved they’re no fluke after a strong regular season with a first round dispatching of the defending Stanley Cup Champion Colorado Avalanche in seven games in round one.
Matty Beniers is a player to watch on the forward lines, while the defense is anchored by former Star Jamie Oleskiak, in addition to Oliver Bjorkstrand- whoscored two goals in Game 7 vs. the Avs. In net, Philip Grubauer has carried the team- he posted a 2.85 GAA mark in the regular season.
Jake Oettinger answered any questions as to whether last year’s 64-save performance in game 7 of the first round was a fluke with a rock solid performance against his hometown Minnesota Wild.
Oettinger has proven to be a franchise cornerstone, building on a regular season stars with a 2.01 goals allowed per game performance and .929 save percentage while appearing in all six playoff games.
Now the question- can he keep going at this pace, and stay healthy while doing so? Or will Dallas have to turn to veteran backup Scott Wedgewood at any point?
DSF Series prediction- Stars in 6.
This is not to discount what the Kraken have done by any means. Clearly, they deserve all the attention the Stars can give and prove to be a matchup problem. But the Avs team Seattle faced in the first round was far from full strength. Dallas has much more talent on paper, and playoff experience to boot- which is a major factor starting with the second round.
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