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Stars Plan to Avoid Being Prey for the Predators Written by habsfan93 - June 7th, 2022

In a weird twist, the Dallas Stars are facing the Nashville Predators in both the CMHL and ICHF quarter-finals of the S18 playoffs. The Stars won Game 1 of the both series and hope to move forward in both leagues. Here's a breakdown of each of the matchups.

CMHL

Season Series: Pretty even - DAL took 1, NSH took 2 and 3 games went to OT with NSH winning two and DAL taking the other.

Team Stats:

Statistic DAL NSH
Season Record 40-28-14 (6th) 45-29-8 (3rd)
Goals For per Game 3.33 (15th) 3.41 (11th)
Goals Against per Game 3.11 (8th) 3.12 (9th)
Shots For per Game 31.26 (18th) 33.04 (6th)
Shots Against per Game 32.05 (21st) 30.73 (11th)
Hits per Game 16.68 (19th) 17.56 (9th)
Faceoff % 48.72 (26th) 50.3 (17th)
PIM/G 6.84 (21st) 7.18 (17th)
PP % 23.38 (9th) 20.86 (21st)
PK % 78.17 (17th) 78.63 (12th)

A pure analysis of team stats would leave most analysts in favour of Nashville to win this series, especially considering their hot streak in the final third of the season, vaulting them from out of the playoff picture into a division win. Dallas has consistently been in the playoff picture all season though they were undeniably streaky this year, having trouble finding any consistency. While they may match Nashville in GA/G, that was largely on the shoulders of Ben Bishop who was having another Vezina-caliber season before being traded. Since the trade, with Dallas in the bottom half defensively in terms of shot allowance and neither Talbot nor Andersen providing steady tending, that stat is misleading.

But other stats are misleading too. The Stars were pretty terrible in the faceoff circle but that's largely due to Brayden Point playing center for 80% of the year. With the deadline acquisitions of Blake Wheeler and JT Compher, the Stars improved dramatically in the faceoff circle and hence have heightened their possession numbers. Both Wheeler and Compher in fact are averaging almost a point per game since joining the Stars which has given them significantly more firepower in their top 6 forward unit than prior to the deadline. With Point being one of the best scorers in the league, the offense is there to match Nashville.

Part of Dallas' success is that they are a very disciplined team that excels on the power play. They are among the best in the league at letting the other team get into penalty trouble and capitalizing. Which is exactly what happened in Game 1, as the Stars scored two power play goals within the first four minutes of the game to set the tone early. If they can keep that up and get above average goaltending, they may have a chance to move on to the semis.

 

ICHF

Season Series: Dallas won 4 and lost 3 in OT (two of which were shootouts). So all in all, Dallas clearly has the edge on the season.

Team Stats:

Statistic DAL NSH
Season Record 49-24-9 (4th) 50-25-7 (5th)
Goals For per Game 3.39 (4th) 3.09 (14th)
Goals Against per Game 2.68 (6th) 2.57 (3rd)
Shots For per Game 32.17 (14th) 30.5 (21st)
Shots Against per Game 30.23 (11th) 30.72 (12th)
Hits per Game 17.62 (25th) 20.98 (1st)
Faceoff % 55.99 (2nd) 48.45 (21st)
PIM/G 8.29 (24th) 10.28 (4th)
PP % 22.04 (6th) 18.12 (23rd)
PK % 78.06 (28th) 85.83 (1st)

These two teams tell a very different story. Dallas is a skill-first offensive powerhouse with a top 5 ICHF goalie in Jake Allen. Nashville is a brute force physical team with a top 5 ICHF goalie in former Star Devan Dubnyk (whom I'm regretting trading to Nashville right about now...)

With both teams having amongst the best goalies in the ICHF, the question is whether skill or physical force will win the day. Game 1 told a distinct story as Dallas completely shut down Nashville limiting them to 19 shots while letting loose themselves for 43 shots en route to a 5-1 victory. We'll see if Nashville can adapt to the Stars style of play or wear the Stars down over the series.

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