NHL Playoffs – Ducks Veterans Hope to Fly One More Time
NHL Playoffs – Pacific Division
Two of the last seven Stanley Cup titles have landed on the West Coast, with a third narrowly escaping the Pacific Division’s grasp when the Bruins beat the Canucks in the thrilling seven-game series of 2011. While only three seeds from the revamped Pacific managed to qualify for the NHL playoffs this year – making it the only division without a wild card team – Anaheim, San Jose, and Los Angeles are all loaded with veteran playoff leadership and capable of making deep runs toward the Cup.
The Dallas Stars, the wild card from the Central division thrown into this mix, are coming off a harrowing year that began with a huge trade for Bruins star Tyler Seguin and ended with alternate captain Rich Peverly leaving the team after a scary incident on the ice that saw him unconscious from a heart ailment. The kind of resolve necessary to carry on as a team after that makes the Stars a worthy contender in these Divisional Semifinals, no matter how outmanned they may appear on paper.
Anaheim Ducks – Dallas Stars Matchup
The Stars’ trade for Seguin got most of the offseason attention, but the top-seeded Anaheim Ducks also kicked off the 2013-14 season with a trade of their own, dealing Bobby Ryan to Ottawa for a couple of players and the No. 10 pick in this summer’s NHL Draft. Based on the fact they came up only one point short of the President’s Trophy, it appears they managed to do just fine with who they have while gaining a building block for the future.
And they’ll have at least one forward to replace very soon, as ageless wonder Teemu Selanne has announced this will, indeed, be his final run at the Stanley Cup. This talented veteran squad isn’t likely to need sentimental motivation against the Stars, but a second Cup for “The Finnish Flash” would be pretty sweet icing on the cake if they managed to march through the Pacific and the Western Conference Finals.
Anaheim – Dallas Season Series
|10/20/2013||Ducks, 6-3||Anaheim||CA||Honda Center|
|11/26/2013||Stars, 6-3||Dallas||TX||American Airlines Center|
|2/1/2014||Stars, 2-0||Anaheim||CA||Honda Center|
Ducks – Stars Tickets
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2014 Stars – Ducks Highlights
San Jose Sharks – Los Angeles Kings Matchup
Like the Flyers-Rangers pairing in the Metropolitan Division, this two-versus-three matchup is sure to be one of the most heated, intense Divisional Semifinal series we’ll see this year. The Los Angeles Kings were so close to a second straight Stanley Cup Final berth last season, but their chance to repeat as champions was cut short by eventual title holders Chicago.
The San Jose Sharks have long been one of the NHL’s most successful regular season team, but it seems time after time they fail to fulfill expectations, falling short of the Final in the postseason. As consistently as both squads compete among the Western Conference’s best, they’ve given their all to ruin the other’s chances at happiness. With blue-collar, physical play hiding under West Coast flash on both ends of the ice, expect these two teams’ grit to rub early, often, and deep into the limits of what should be a seven game series.
The Kings won one regular season game on San Jose ice while both teams held their home ice advantage in the other four games, so expect a tight, overtime final in at least one game of this series to tilt the scales. The offensive firepower of the Sharks will be too much to stop, and they’ll move on to try toppling Anaheim in the Pacific Division Final.
San Jose – Los Angeles Season Series
|10/30/2013||Kings, 4-3 (OT)||Los Angeles||CA||Staples Center|
|11/27/2013||Sharks, 3-2 (SO)||San Jose||CA||SAP Center|
|12/19/2013||Kings, 4-1||Los Angeles||CA||Staples Center|
|1/27/2014||Kings, 1-0||San Jose||CA||SAP Center|
|4/3/2014||Sharks, 2-1||San Jose||CA||SAP Center|