Dallas Stars Use Underdog Status As Motivation For Lead Against Calgary Flames

Dallas Stars Playoff
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Last night’s game in Dallas marked the halfway point between the Dallas Stars and the Calgary Flames in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Stars 4-2 win against the Flames puts Dallas in the lead on the series, 2-1. The course of the series thus far probably comes as a surprise to everyone but the Dallas Stars and their fans. The Stars playoff hopes get higher with every game! All 19 analysts for ESPN picked the Flames to win the series in some fashion, most in four or five games. The storyline of counting the Stars out before the games ever start is a common theme for the Stars. “We are very comfortable playing the underdog,” states Dallas Stars defenceman, John Klingberg.

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Dallas Stars Playoff Run Can Be Longer Than Some Expected

Playoff Emotions and Physicality

The Flames came out hard in Game 1, making it very clear that Klingberg was their intended target. Within minutes, gloves are dropped after a hard hit on Klingberg, between Dallas Stars, Michael Raffl, and Calgary Flames, Matthew Tkachuk. Raffl, who has not dropped the gloves since being with Dallas, gets a few good licks on Tkachuk before the two fall to the ice. Another disturbance immediately ensues when Klingberg asks Rasmus Andersson to drop the gloves. The two don’t actually drop the gloves, but that does not prevent Andersson from getting some shots in. The after-the-fact extra-curricular activities get both Klingberg and Andersson game misconducts and both are removed from the game.

Klingberg on Andersson in an interview after Game 1, “He’s acting a little tougher than he is, we’re going to go after him.” Needless to say, this comment created an even bigger target on Klingberg’s back. And the consequences come in the form of Tkachuk. Klingberg and Tkachuk have gotten into scrums in the opening minutes of Games 2 and 3. It seems as though Klingberg has gotten in the head of one of Calgary’s highest-scoring players. Tkachuk, who had 42 goals on the season, has not been producing offensively the way the team is used to seeing. Klingberg, on the other hand, has more penalty minutes this post-season than he has in four of his eight seasons in the NHL. Combined, the teams have 124 penalty minutes in three games.

Only One Top Line is Dominating

At the end of the regular season, the Flames finished with a goal differential of +85. They are used to producing with one of the hottest top lines in the NHL. However, their top line, in Tkachuk, Johnny Gaudreau, and Elias Lindholm has been pretty quiet. Lindholm has two of the three goals scored by the Flames in all three games. Trevor Lewis has the other lone goal that was scored in Game 3. Nevertheless, Gaudreau and Tkachuk have assisted in Lindholm’s goals. This line is going to have to figure out how to penetrate the Stars’ defence and if they can do that, try to get it past their goalie.

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The Stars’ top line, on the other hand, is responsible for four of the six goals against the Flames. Three of those come from Joe Pavelski. This is Pavelski’s 12th multi-goal playoff game in his career. Although Jason Robertson remains goalless in three games, Roope Hintz tallied a goal at the end of Game 3 on an empty net with 0.05 seconds remaining in the game.

Goaltending and Defence Helping Stars Playoff Run

Getting through each team’s defence to get to the goalie has proven to be a feat. However, actually scoring on them is an even bigger challenge. Each goalie has already recorded a shut-out; Jacob Markstrom in Game 1 and Jake Oettinger in Game 2. Oettinger becomes the youngest goalie in Dallas Stars history to record a shut-out in a playoff game. Markstrom, who recorded nine shutouts in the regular season, is no stranger to making sure the other team doesn’t score.

Gaudreau who was referring to Oettinger in a post-game conference stated “he played well, but he’s just another goalie.” Oettinger, who is now 2-1-0 on the series has only allowed three goals in nine periods. He has faced 96 shots, saving 93 of them, giving him a save percentage of .969%. The 23-year-old goalie started this season in the AHL with the Texas Stars. Due to injuries and performance, Oettinger finds himself as the number one goalie and has been performing like a seasoned veteran. His poise and attitude are something that several teammates have commended him for in the media. His goals-against average thus far is 1.01. Oettinger’s great performance is helping keep the Dallas Stars playoff hopes alive

Markstrom, the 32-year-old goalie for Calgary, is now 1-2-0 on the series. He has a goals-against-average of 1.36 and a save percentage of .942%. Markstrom has himself a career year during the regular season, recording a new low goals-against-average of 2.22 The veteran goalie has played well but has not had much help from his teammates this post-season. Part of this can be contributed to the Stars’ tight defence. Defenseman Miro Heiskanen recorded roughly 78 minutes on ice between the three games and none of three Calgary goals have occurred while he has been on the ice.

Possible Upset Incoming

It has been said that the Dallas Stars are built for playoffs and thrive in the underdog role. Statistically and on paper, the Stars should be losing this series by a long shot. But they are proving that they won’t go down without a fight. Plus, the Flames are going to figure out how to beat them if they want to advance to the next round. Since 1994, the Stars are 12-0 when they are up on the series 2-1. The Flames, when down 1-2 in the series are 2-11. This series might turn out to be the biggest upset of the year. The two teams play Game 4 on Monday in Dallas.

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