Heading into their second-round series against the Colorado Avalanche, the Dallas Stars had a major concern surrounding the production of their top line. The Stars were able to get past the Calgary Flames because of their depth scoring. But, all of that changed once the puck dropped in Game 1. Something inside the Stars top trio clicked as they took their game to another level. The top line is a big reason why the Stars have a 2-1 series lead over the Avalanche.
Dallas Stars Top Line Production
There was a lot of criticism of the Dallas Stars offence as the NHL restart began in August. Through five games (three round-robin and two Stanley Cup Playoff games), the Stars only produced six goals. None of which came from their top line. But over the next seven games, the Stars have collected 28 goals. 10 of those goals came from the top line of Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, and Alexander Radulov. This trio makes the Stars offence run. But with them not producing, the Stars were getting offence from other areas.
Secondary scoring was a factor in the first round as Joe Pavelski, Denis Gurianov, and Miro Heiskanen all stepped up. Especially Heiskanen, who leads all defencemen with 15 points. However, against a team like the Flames, the Stars could get away with not having production from the top line. But that trio started to find their game late in the series and it has carried over into the first three games of this series.
Through the first three games of the series, Seguin, Benn, and Radulov have combined for 16 points. In the first two games of the series, that the Stars won, that line combined for 13 points, but in the Game 3 loss to Colorado, they just had three points. When this line produces for the Stars, good things happen. And now, that the Dallas Stars’ top line is going, it gives the rest of the team more confidence. This line will need to produce as they did in the first two games if the Stars want to avoid the Avalanche evening the series.
Playing With a Mission
The Dallas Stars and their top line are on a mission to get to the Stanley Cup Final this year. After coming so close last season falling in the second round to the St. Louis Blues in Game 7. The Stars have been always considered a contender in the Western Conference. But, for some reason are always the forgotten team. Even heading into this series, there was more talk about the Avalanche’s top line than the Stars’ top line. Seguin, Benn, and Radulov just like the rest of the team used it as motivation.
It clearly showed in the first two games. The Stars top line made a statement in Game 1 as Seguin got his first goal of the playoffs. Seguin had been so close against the Flames, but with the monkey off his back, he looked like a much different player. The rest of his game fell into place, which gave his linemates even more confidence. Seguin and Radulov were vital to the team’s comeback in Game 2 as they set up Pavelski’s power-play marker that got the Stars offence rolling. As for Benn, he continues to show he is a force in the league being a big physical presence on the ice.
Anton Khudobin‘s Net To Lose
Even though Anton Khudobin gave up five goals in Game 3 against the Avalanche, this is still his net to lose. With Ben Bishop still unfit to play, but getting closer to returning, Khudobin has held down the fort. In 10 games this postseason, Khudobin has a .275 goals-against-average and .913 save percentage. And he weathered the storm during the Avalanche’s surges in Games 1 and 2. As a matter of fact, Khudobin kept his team in Game 2 down 2-0 with remarkable saves.
And when the Stars had the lead, Khudobin made sure his team kept the lead stopping leading scorer Nathan MacKinnon several times. Even though he looked tired towards the end of Game 3, this is Khudobin’s net even with Bishop close to returning. And even when Bishop is fit to play again, don’t assume he will automatically go in there. Khudobin is the guy until he does not show the capability of bouncing back after a loss.
The big thing for the Stars is getting production from their top line. Yes, they have the depth scoring to match the Avalanche, but they need Seguin, Benn, and Radulov to continue to produce if they want to make a deep run. Defensively, the Stars are playing well. You know MacKinnon and the Avalanche’s top line will get theirs, but they can’t let the other guys beat them. Most teams play better with a lead, but the Stars are the comeback kids in these playoffs. However, Dallas is tempting fate if they fall beyond early in a game especially against a team like Colorado.
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