Mark Spector will be following the Western Conference throughout the playoffs.
For a game that began with utter domination by the Anaheim Ducks, Dallas’s comeback Wednesday gave the Stars plenty of inspiration to carry into game two Friday night. The Stars turned a 4-0 blowout into a 4-3 nail-biter, and took game one right to the final shift at the Honda Center.
Then consider how the game ended—with Anaheim captain Ryan Getzlaf taking a slap shot to the side of the face—and you can imagine the level of belief Dallas could have if Getzlaf is out for any length of time. The Ducks are, of course, saying that Getzlaf should be OK, but Dallas’s young stars showed they could make a dent in Anaheim’s defensive structure when they turned up the heat. Stay tuned. This series could have more jam than first thought.
Is there a player in the NHL married to comparisons as deeply a Dallas’s Tyler Seguin, who had a lovely game one redirection goal? The Tyler Seguin-Taylor Hall debate goes back to draft day in 2010, and this season we’re hearing the question more and more: “Would you trade Seguin straight up for Phil Kessel today?”
We recall Kessel coming to Toronto from Boston in September of 2009 for two first-round draft picks (Seguin and Dougie Hamilton) and a second-rounder (Jared Knight). Four seasons later, Seguin racked up 84 points to Kessel’s 80, with both scoring 37 goals. Kessel is a winger while Seguin has turned into a first-line centre—the latter a more valuable position. Kessel will be 27 when the 2014-15 season starts, while Seguin only turned 22 in January. Hmmm…
As for Hall, we’ve heard for three years that he is better. But in the past four months, many opinions have changed. Hall also had an 80-point season but played five fewer games than Seguin. The Taylor-Tyler debate is surely an easier comparison than Seguin-Kessel, with no ancillary draft picks involved. What is clear is that Seguin, Kessel and Hall could be top-10 scorers for years to come. No matter how good Kessel is in Toronto, however, the overall package that ex-Leafs GM Brian Burke gave up will look worse, the better Seguin becomes.
That rookie Frederik Andersen got the start in goal for Anaheim means two things: Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau now has the best backup in the NHL in Jonas Hiller; and, if Andersen falters in his first ever playoff run, the Ducks will be inwardly very concerned about the state of Hiller’s game.
Hiller was given almost 60 percent of the minutes in Anaheim’s net this season. Now he’s the backup when the playoffs start. If the Ducks weren’t worried about his game already, he’d have been in between the pipes for game one.