The Dallas Stars gave the Anaheim Ducks fits through six hard fought games in round one of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Here's my five handshake line words to the Stars:
- Hats off to the fans in Dallas. The three home games played at the American Airlines Center were attended by a passionate, rabid fanbase who loudly supported their team. That's fantastic. I bet the players absolutely loved it and appreciated the support, all year long for sure but also specifically in the postseason.
- Tyler Seguin was sensational all series. He didn't have the points to back up his play, but whenever he was on the ice the Ducks best containment player, Cam Fowler, was spending all his energies keeping him quiet. Despite that, he drove play forward constantly and gave the other Ducks defenders fits with his speed through the middle. I thought he had a helluva series simply by virtue of taking the Ducks best blueliner out of open play.
- Trevor Daley impressed the hell out of me in all six games. His speed, his positional awareness, his tenacious physicality against some of the Ducks agitators was memorable. One of the lasting images of the series is Daley sitting on Corey Perry in the crease, throwing bombs. That epitomized the playoffs to me (and was also pretty appropriate given Perry's earlier stick infraction on Jamie Benn as well as his off-puck goalie bumps).
- Valeri Nichushkin had an up and down series overall. At times he looked dominant, while at other times he disappeared. But those moments of dominance should (and do) give Stars fans a lot to look forward to. His skating is great, his hands are smooth, and once he combines those with how best to pressure opponents with his size and speed and shot, he's going to be scary. The glimpses I saw in round one were enough for now, thanks!
- This was said earlier virtually everywhere, but I hope it never gets forgotten: the medical staff in Dallas and on hand at the American Airlines Center are excellent. The Rich Peverley collapse that happened earlier in the regular season put the lesser seen support employees around these teams in the spotlight, and they were terrific. The training, equipment, and medical staff for each team, but specific to the Stars here, deserve full marks.