Know Thy Enemy: Dallas Forward Preview

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

We start our playoff preview coverage with a look at the Stars' forwards.

Line Combinations

(based on the Apr. 6 data from Fantasyhockey911.com, Dailyfaceoff.com from Apr. 13 and my "common sense")

Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Valeri Nichushkin

Antoine Roussel - Cody Eakin - Ryan Garbutt

Erik Cole - Vernon Fiddler - Alex Chiasson

Chris Mueller - Dustin Jeffrey - Colton Sceviour

(And I honestly have no idea how Shawn Horcoff fits into this mix, when people aren't being rested)

Injuries

Ray Whitney - Day to Day since Apr. 4 with a lower body injury, has missed the last six games

Rich Peverley - Season ending irregular heartbeat Mar. 11

How did their season go?

The Ducks have Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, the Stars have Seguin and Benn. These guys have a symbiotic relationship, and it's only in year one. The difference between the twins and Dallas' pair of stars is that they don't really have a playmaker/sniper situation like Getz and Perry do, so maybe the better Ducks analogy is Selanne/Kariya (but that might be giving them too much credit). Both Seguin and Benn had career years this season in goals, assists and points (37-47-84 & 34-47-79, respectively), and that can be directly attributed to being paired together all year, since the blockbuster trade that brought Seguin over from Boston in the summer.

The young talent a little further down the lineup for Dallas has also turned in a good year, with breakout performances from guys like Alex Chiasson (13-22-35), Ryan Garbutt (17-15-32) and Antoine Roussel (14-15-29).

On the other end of the spectrum, Horcoff (also in his first season with Dallas) only put up 20 points on the season, which goes down as his worst offensive year since his rookie season of 2000-01 (considering his 82 game pace last year was 31.7 points). He also has only put up three points since the beginning of March (19 games).

Stats vs. Ducks

Name

Games Played vs Ducks

Goals

Assists

Points

FF% (5v5)

Ryan Garbutt

3

2

3

5

58.5

Cody Eaken

3

1

2

3

46.2

Erik Cole

3

0

3

3

46.8

Vernon Fiddler

3

0

3

3

58.3

Antoine Roussel

3

2

0

2

60.8

Jamie Benn

3

1

1

2

66.7

Shawn Horcoff

3

1

1

2

29.4

Alex Chiasson

3

1

0

1

38.3

Ray Whitney

3

0

1

1

34.9

Rich Peverley

3

0

1

1

52.5

Tyler Seguin

3

0

1

1

62.3

Valeri Nichushkin

3

0

1

1

52.7


Top Three Threats to Anaheim

1) Seguin/Benn - In any game against Dallas this season the first and foremost goal is to slow down these two. The Ducks actually did a pretty good job of keeping Benn and Seguin off the board in the three head to head games this season, allowing them only three points combined. Over the course of the season they've combined for just over two points per game (2.2). Then again, look at those Fenwick numbers above... Yikes!

2) Depth - As with anything, there is an equilibrium to be reached. Focusing too much on the big boys will leave gaps open for the next wave. That seems to have been an issue in the head to head match ups against Dallas this year, considering Garbutt chalked up five points in only three games versus the Ducks and a five game suspension for knocking out Dustin Penner. (Side note: If there is one Dallas player ready to take the mantle of most hated by Ducks fans from Stephane Robidas, it's Ryan Garbutt)

Not only that, the Ducks should be wary of that since, it was also part of the reason they were knocked out of the first round last year by Detroit. Early in the series, guys like Damien Brunner and Gustav Nyquist were coming up big for the Wings until Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk showed up in Games 6 and 7.

3) Speed - Dallas is a quick team, both in terms of skating and puck movement. This has been a huge concern for the Ducks this season thinking back to games against Dallas, but also the trouble they faced against Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk from Toronto. As a Bruce Boudreau team, the Ducks have a tenancy to get roped into running and gunning, which could play directly into the Stars' hands.

Top Three Ways to Beat the Dallas Forwards

1) Strong Neutral Zone Defense - At the risk of sounding like an Eddie Olczyck impersonator: Gap control and good sticks! The key to dealing with speed - and anyone really, but especially speed - is to walk that fine line between over committing and backing off. For this reason alone, I would prefer not to see Bryan Allen with skates on until the second round. He loves going for the big hit, to the detriment of his positioning and can't recover because he wears cement skates. That's a deadly combination for Dallas to attack, and I call out Allen only because it's most egregious with him, but the entire team needs to be constantly aware of that. If the Ducks can slow it down and play a smart physical style they should have some success.

2) Possession - As always, the best defense is a good offense. As one might expect Dallas is a better possession team than the Ducks, but not by a terribly wide margin. The Stars are ninth in the league at Fenwick percentage (51.9) while the Ducks are 15th (50.2) and head to head this year, each team won the possession battle once. The Ducks are capable of keeping the puck away from these guys, Hell they out possessed San Jose last week, but they need to do a better job on the big guys or it will be a matter of time before they break out.

3) Insider Trading - The Ducks have a couple of aces up their sleeves when it comes to Dallas now, which didn't exist during any of the head to head match ups this year, Robidas, Getzlaf and Perry. Obviously Robidas came over from Dallas at the trade deadline this year and will be very familiar with the Stars' systems and tendencies. Also Getzlaf and Perry played most of the Olympics on a line with Jamie Benn, maybe they picked up a few of his secrets along the way.... Of course that is a double edged sword

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