Key Matchup-

Ryan Suter is one of the league’s best defensemen, but Jamie Benn has had the edge every time the two have met on the ice over the past five years. But it’s how they play with their respective partners; Benn with Tyler Seguin and Suter with Jared Spurgeon that will make it interesting. These players are good standing alone, but their partners compliment them and will create an interesting matchup to watch.

Minnesota Wild-

Winning Formula: 

Devan Dubnyk has continued to be a stone wall in the net and the Wild have tremendous forward depth. Mikko Koivu, Mikael Granlund, Erik Haula, and Charlie Coyle are some names of players on this team that have produced consistently. Ryan Suter leads Jared Spurgeon, Jonas Brodin and Mathew Dumba on the blueline. Nino Niederreitier had three goals in the 2014 playoffs and four more in 2015. Three of his seven post-season goals were game winners. On a team that severely falters in possession, Niederreitier’s score-adjusted Corsi mark of 55.6 put him 10.3 percent above his teammates, giving him the best relative Corsi number in the NHL.

How to Lose the Series in 7 Games or Less:

Zach Parise, Jason Pominville, and Thomas Vanek have not been producing as well as they should have been offensively this past season, and now Parise and Vanek are out indefinitely. The Wild’s penalty kill ranks low in the league and they have a hit or miss power play. They are not a puck possession team and that does not bode well for them as Corsi stats have had an impact in recent Stanley Cup final history.

Dallas Stars-

Winning Formula:  

The Stars lead the NHL in goals per game, generate the third-most shots on goal per game, and rank second in score-adjusted Corsi For per 60 minutes. Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin are a powerhouse duo. Seguin puts numbers on the board while Benn is one of the league’s top power forwards. Jason Spezza has proven himself as a power play specialist and second-line center. John Klingberg has come into his own this year and really shown what an asset he can be both adding to the score and moving the puck.

How to Lose the Series in 7 Games or Less: 

The Stars defense has something to be desired even with Johnny Oduya on the blueline. They allowed the most goals per game among the teams in the first round of these playoffs. Their defense does have great mobility, but it’s not enough. They need to play a heavier and more physical defensive game to survive to the next round. Antti Niemi was brought in to share goaltending duties with Kari Lehtonen. Although it seems like a good idea to have a pair of goalies switching off and staying fresh the past six of the last seven Stanley Cup champions won with one goalie in the net earning all 16 wins.

 

Follow us on Twitter @TristinHuntamer and @BandBHockey