No one could have expected this.
Not to be outdone by the Dallas Mavericks – who beat top-seeded San Antonio on Wednesday to even their NBA playoff series 1-1 – the Dallas Stars beat top-seeded Anaheim on the very same night to even their NHL playoff series 2-2.
Indeed, Jamie Benn, Cody Eakin, Vernon Fiddler and Alex Goligoski all found the net in the Stars’ 4-2 win.
A best-of-seven series is suddenly best-of-three, with Game 5 slated for Friday in Anaheim at 10:30 p.m. ET. The Stars have won two straight games by a combined 7-2 score – this after dropping a pair of one-goal games to open the series.
“They think they can (win); they absolutely think they can,” Bob Sturm, host of The Ticket in Dallas, said on Ferrall on the Bench. “And that’s the thing about this team right now. They are rolling in confidence. The Ducks seem to be off their game.”
It doesn’t help that Ryan Getzlaf missed Game 4 with an upper-body injury.
“Getzlaf obviously missing is huge,” Sturm said. “And for a dude that awesome to miss a game in the playoffs, you have to think it must be something pretty serious because that guy’s not just skipping games. He’s the captain of the Ducks. He’s got a reputation of being the real deal. So I’m not thinking he’s skipping a game unless it is serious this time of year. So with him out that’s a different hockey team. We all know it.”
Anaheim finished with a Western Conference-best 116 points this season – 25 more than Dallas (91). After taking the first two games at home in Anaheim, this series appeared all but over. Now, however, Anaheim is on the verge of collapse.
“This is a deal where the Ducks, to me, are just kind of losing their minds,” Sturm said.
And the reason why is coming from two unlikely sources – wingers Antoine Roussel, 24, and Ryan Garbutt, 28.
“They’re not big dudes,” Sturm said. “In fact, neither of them weighs 200 pounds. Neither of them were even drafted in the National Hockey League. I mean, they’re nice players, but they’re real pests. They’re the guys that are just out there trying to get under your skin. But they’re not dive-bombing at knees, they’re not running into goalies – they’re just being annoying. And that little bit of annoying is causing the Ducks to lose their stinking minds right now. It’s almost like they’re so off their game that the Stars believe that they can just roll in there (Friday) night into Anaheim and go get that road win they need and try to close it out Sunday.”
Roussel has three assists in the series, while Garbut has scored twice.
“If you just stack the players based on size, the Ducks probably have the four or five biggest guys in the series – so why they’re allowing some 180-pound pests to knock them off their game, it really doesn’t make any sense,” Sturm said. “And honestly, I think we’re seeing a pretty big coaching difference here. Lindy Ruff seems to be coaching the pants of Bruce Boudreau right now. We all know Boudreau has his problems this time of year, and he’s not helping his reputation, if you ask me.
“For an 8-seed to have this much confidence four games into a series against a 1-seed that finished (25) points above them in the standings is really nuts right now.”