They looked old, confused and incapable of stopping a relentless Avalanche attack, and now they don’t have to worry about it. The Dallas Stars were eliminated Saturday afternoon after a 5-2 loos, as Colorado rebounded from a horrible end to the regular season with a dominating performance in the first playoff round.
The Stars began the game fine with Chris Therien coring the opening goal at the five minute mark, they held their own until the last two minutes of period number one when D’arby Hendrickson scored his first playoff goal this year, after that the Avs controlled the game, taking advantage of the Dallas miscues and setting the pace of the game to one they could control.
Dallas never seemed to get the game plan straight as the Av’s controlled all facets of play in this series including the goaltending, the one area that most observers had given the nod to the Stars on. Marty Turco was nowhere near the level he had shown in the regular season when his GAA was a measly 1.98. Twice in this series Turco had five goals scored on him and in each game he gave up at least three goals. Without his usually reliable performance the Stars could not launch a come back and handed the Avs the four games with a minimum of effort.
If there is one team that is going to see some wholesale changes in the off season (if there is hockey next year) it will be the Stars. This is one team that needs to be re-assembled and pointed in a new direction.
The Avs on the other hand have turned around their late March downward spiral and managed to get everyone on the same page again. David Aebischer continued to play a strong game in the Av’s net, stopping 62 of 65 shots in the last two games, he holds a stingy 1.83 Goals against record heading into the second round. Colorado’s scoring machine has also fired up the boilers, Peter Forsberg, Milan Hejduk and Joe Sakic are a couple of the Avalanche veterans who have regained their scoring touch as the first round progressed. Rookie Marek Svatos picked up six points in the series, fitting in nicely with the Avalanche lineup after only appearing in four regular season games.
As they wait for the winner of the Flames/Canucks series to be revealed they can only rest up and try to keep sharp. They could end up playing the Sharks or the Canucks next week, either team will have its hands full with a rejuvenated Avalanche team, with confidence building in their game they could be a tough opponent for the second round.