The Dallas Stars have been on a mission all season. After failing to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season with a talented roster, they made moves in the offseason to address their issues and it paid off during the regular season.
It also will pay off in the postseason as the Stars will win the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1999.
A season-long battle for supremacy at the top of the standings in the Central Division and the Western Conference has blooded the Stars for what is to come throughout the spring.
Dallas' success starts with Jamie Benn. The Art Ross Trophy winner last season topped the 40-goal mark for the first time in the NHL. He's expected to be joined by teammate Tyler Seguin. He's been sidelined because of an Achilles injury but appears poised to deliver on a promise to be back by Game 1 of the playoffs.
The duo of Benn and Seguin is one of the highest-scoring pairs in the League and will carry the Stars to the Stanley Cup.
The Stars are one of two teams with three 30-goal scorers. In addition to Benn and Seguin (33 goals), Jason Spezza had 33 and has looked much more comfortable in his second season with the Stars. It's no surprise they led the League in goals per game.
Video: NSH@DAL: Spezza powers Stars to win with hat trick
The offensive depth of the Stars will be hard for other teams to match; Dallas had 10 forwards with at least 10 goals and 11 with 20 points.
Patrick Sharp was traded to Dallas from the Chicago Blackhawks this offseason and has added another dimension to the group of forwards. Defenseman Johnny Oduya, who signed as a free agent from Chicago, has helped stabilize the back end. Each of them is a Stanley Cup champion, and that experience will help Dallas on its playoff run this season.
Defenseman John Klingberg showed his success as a rookie last season was no fluke, with 10 goals and 58 points in 76 games. He gives Dallas an electric offensive defenseman, something they haven't had since Sergei Zubov with the 1999 Stanley Cup champion Stars.
Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen split the starts in goal nearly evenly and each won 25 games. They each have been No. 1 starters before and it's a big advantage for Dallas to have two goalies capable of stealing games to choose from in the playoffs.
Special teams has been a big part of the success as well. The Stars ranked in the top 10 in power-play percentage and penalty-killing efficiency for the majority of the season.
The Stars had a sour taste in their mouth after the playoffs last season. This time a deep run throughout June will end with the sweet taste of champagne as Dallas will be lifting the Stanley Cup.