Great effort, Stars. Way to keep fighting. The intestinal fortitude to keep on plugging, especially when down, 4-0, in the second period of Game One of the Stanley Cup Playoffs at Anaheim on Wednesday night is to be commended and admired.
You guys have shown fight, passion and determination. There is no question that you’re leaving it all on the ice. Jamie Benn is proving he is worthy of wearing the C, leading the way with fantastic two-way play. Tyler Seguin might have the most talent of any player on the ice in this series, and that’s saying something.
It is obvious that the Ducks’ strength and depth on defense dwarfs what the Stars roll out among their D-pairs, though no one is questioning the effort.
Yes, the Stars gave a valiant effort in Game One. They need to bring it again. Yet it won’t be enough until they get one thing.
Kari Lehtonen needs to be a difference maker.
Oh, he wasn’t bad in Game One, nor was he the reason the Stars lost. But he needs to be the reason the Stars WIN one of these contests soon and do what good playoff goaltenders do – steal a game. Or three.
If he doesn’t, this series won’t last long and the race will be on between Dirk Nowitzki and Lehtonen as to who gets to go to Albertsons and buy the ground meat first for the barbeque in the AAC parking lot when there aren’t any more games to play at the arena this spring.
Those Stars teams that won Presidents’ Trophies, Western Conference Titles and the 1999 Stanley Cup? Yes, they had great depth on both the forward lines and D-pairs. But the biggest thing they had – the Eagle. Make no mistake about it – Dallas never should have won the West in 2000 for a return trip to the Finals. Ed Belfour simply wouldn’t let them lose to a very, very good Colorado team.
Marty Turco was a fantastic regular season goalie; perhaps the best this franchise has ever seen. But he was just good enough most of the time in the playoffs for his team to come up one goal short.
That’s not a knock on Turco. He just could never get over the hump in the playoffs until he figured things out in 2008. And he was the main reason the Stars went to the Western Conference Finals as a five seed (with all due credit to Brenden Morrow as well).
Lehtonen needs to be a wall. Pronto.
Again, this is not a knock on Kari. But he’s paid like an elite goaltender. It’s time to step up.
The mental part of the game is in the Stars’ favor right now. They have momentum and the phrase most heard post-game in the Ducks’ locker room was “whew!”
Did the Ducks win the game? Yes. Is Dallas now chasing the series? Yes. But the first game jitters, which were obvious among some of the Stars in the first 30 minutes, are over. Confidence is the name of the game among Dallas players.
The fact is – if Dallas can find a way to win Game Two, this series is tied. They’ll need Benn to lead again. And Seguin to create again. And for everything to be left on the ice. Again.
And they’ll need Lehtonen to be the difference.