Saturday, April 19
Never so easy
The series has been extended as the Ducks walked away from the Stars 5-2 last night, and despite the fact that the game Sunday will be another elimination game for the Ducks, clearly all of the pressure will be on the Stars to close the thing out at home and not have to go back to Anaheim for game 7.
I think this game was exactly what all of the prognosticators were expecting when they were picking the Ducks in 5 or 6. Giguere was excellent, make several huge quality stops in the first to keep his team in it. The Ducks forecheck ran the Stars all over the building, creating some nervousness in the stars young D corps that caused them to spit the puck up in some ugly situations. And the Ducks' veteran defense was generally smart and aggressive in their own end, limiting the Stars' offensive opportunities in the second and third periods.
I know that's weird to say given that the Stars put more than 40 shots on goal and had a number of spectacular scoring chances early, but as the game wore on the shots came from farther and farther away and the scoring chances became less and less spectacular. The Stars still could have won this game, but it just wasn't in the cards for game 5.
Even at their best, Anaheim still has some huge holes in it's game that the Stars are capable of exploiting:
-They have a really hard time clearing the zone on the penalty kill and in five on five situations.
-They lose a lot of puck battles along the boards
-They overpursue when looking for the big hits that create turnovers
-Giguere is getting beaten between the pads on breakaways or turnovers
In games 1,2, and 4 the Stars young D played fast, smart, poised hockey that turned these mistakes into goals over and over again. In games 3 and 5 they played a nervous, more timid game that allowed the Ducks to get away with those mistakes. Marty was also shakier in those games than in the wins, but that's a pretty easy one to point out.
I think this series is going to continue to turn on the play of Daley, Grossman, Fistric, and Robidas. If they take the hits and make the plays in their own zone on Sunday, the Stars are going to be very hard to beat. If they get run off the puck we're going back to Anaheim.
The Ducks are bullies, and they win with all out aggression. The Stars will have to be Matadors in this series, winning by drawing Ducks in and then sending the puck down the ice behind them.