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Robidas tasked with helping Ducks beat former team

by Curtis Zupke

ANAHEIM -- Stephane Robidas was huddled with coaches at the end of Anaheim Ducks practice Tuesday.

It was the day before their opening game in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and it was easy to surmise that Robidas was giving a tutorial on how to defend the Dallas Stars in Game 1 of their Western Conference First Round series (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS, FS-SW, FS-W).

In his first trip to the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2008, Anaheim Ducks defenseman Stephane Robidas faces the team he spent 10 seasons with, the Dallas Stars. (Photo: Mark Buckner/NHLI, Debora Robinson/NHLI)

But Robidas squashed that notion like he snuffs out forwards.

"Just some review," he said. "It was nothing about the other team. It was about our system.

"They ask me a few questions, But in the end, there's so much video. You know everything about everybody."

Robidas spent 10 seasons with Dallas and was Anaheim's nemesis before the Ducks acquired the bruising defenseman March 4 for a fourth-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft. One of the true warriors of the game, Robidas will be charged with slowing down former teammates Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, among others, when the series starts Wednesday at Honda Center.

"They're tough to catch," Robidas said. "They're really fast. I'm just going to approach this series just like I would be playing the L.A. Kings or Chicago or San Jose. … I've played against good friends before, and whenever I'm on the ice, you put aside friendship. I really want to win the Stanley Cup. That's my goal. They stand in my way right now."

Robidas is a big storyline for the series. In addition to playing his former team, he's playing in his first Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2008. His former Stars teammates said it was difficult to see Robidas go because he is synonymous with Dallas and they developed friendships with him.

When defenseman Brenden Dillon first came up to the NHL, Robidas took him into his home to make him feel more comfortable.

"I guess I won the lottery to live there," Dillon said. "Home-cooked meals, but at the same time, having a great set-up and eventually my D-partner to live with."

Dillon lived with Robidas' family, and offered to babysit his young children.

"I always threw it out there if they wanted to look for date night," Dillon said with a laugh. "I got to get very good at [the video game] NHL 2013 with his son, Justin."

Dillon saw that Robidas is consumed by hockey. Robidas is co-owner of the Sherbrooke Phoenix junior team, and he also spends time watching his son's games. Dillon and Robidas were partners for Dillon's first year up until Robidas broke his leg in November.

"I attribute a lot of being in the NHL to him and how I handle myself now, on the ice and off the ice, just as a guy in the locker room," Dillon said. "He plays so hard. He battles so hard. He's just such a good all-around player and teammate. I think that's one thing that maybe goes underrated, is how a guy is with his teammates."

Dallas veteran Ray Whitney hasn't been with the Stars long, but said he became good friends with Robidas. He certainly knows enough about him to know what to expect in the playoffs.

"Old guys kind of stick together," Whitney said. "We both have families. I actually saw his boy the other day, Justin, after one of our games. I gave him a big hug as we were walking off the ice. He's a really nice man and he's a really competitive man. It will be twofold weird seeing him play there, but we'll see that familiar competitiveness, I'm sure."

Robidas has mentioned the Stanley Cup at almost every turn when asked about this series, and it's evident his arrival in Anaheim reinvigorated him.

"I think the main goal hasn't been achieved yet," Robidas said. "We achieved two of the big goals that we wanted to do this year, and now we're going for the big one. That's when the fun is going to begin, and for me, it's going to be great. It's been five years since I've been in the playoffs, so it's going to be exciting."

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