Former Stars defenseman Craig Ludwig is a veteran of 17 NHL seasons and has played in 177 career playoff games, winning two Stanley Cups. Each morning after a Stars playoff game, Luds will post here on DallasStars.com to take you inside the game. He will share some of what he is seeing in the match-up that is going right, what is going wrong, and some of the "games inside the game" that will play big roles in the outcome of each contest and eventually the series.It's hard not to think anything good right now. I don't think that any of the Stars have many doubts in their minds but I think Vancouver has a lot that do. And I think you have to give them reasons to let that doubt roll by playing the same way.
The Stars were very aggressive in Game Six and it showed from the drop of the puck. Modano created a chance right away when he dropped a puck to Sydor right at the top of the slot, who let it rip. That is something we haven't seen much, especially from the opening of the game. That made a statement to me; the Stars were out to win the game and were not content to sit back: "If we lose it, it's going to be on our own terms."
Marty Turco and Roberto Luongo are in a different world right now. I know that Marty doesn't mind his team being aggressive and trying to get some goals for him. We had more intent last night. Our good players stepped up last night and Modano led the way. He can't change; he has to be that same guy in Game Seven. Modano stepped into the fight and he needs to understand that he is a huge part of the team's success when he plays that way.
When your team sees Modano and other guys like Ribeiro step out of character a little bit and pay the price, it pulls everybody along. The aggression continued throughout the game, as the Stars were not content to stand on a 1-0 lead, and that was a good sign too.
This series is so important with that first goal. You have to be aggressive but you have to be smart about it. The way Marty is playing you can take a few more higher-risk chances, but again, it's Game Seven and every mistake will be magnified. But from the drop of the puck on Monday, the Stars need to show Vancouver that they want the game more. Give them the reason to say, "Here we go again."
Dallas was in control of the contest from the beginning of the game, and they do not want to change that. The first 5 or 10 minutes of the game will be important and they will have to let that roar of the building subside and hopefully go away. They'll be all fired up, that's for sure. It's another reason to be very smart about your aggressiveness. Both teams will have a lot of energy.
The last thing you want to do is take a dumb penalty or jump into a play when it's the wrong time and they turn that into the first goal.
But there's really not a lot to change for the Stars. Dallas came out and was hitting Vancouver last night and that is key again. The entire team jumped on board and that's what the playoffs are all about. Everyone on the team needs to contribute and it is contagious. And we've seen it more and more in each game. Another thing that has gotten lost in this entire series is how well the guys are playing in front of Marty. As good as Marty has been, the defense has been shutting down Vancouver and shutting down the right guys. Dallas has been wearing them down.
The Stars are going to have to be willing to take a punch in the head or take a slash to the ankle and be able to bite their lip and not take a dumb retaliatory penalty. Dallas has done a really good job on their power play but you can't give them a ton of chances with the man-advantage. They are due and you don't want to mess with that.
I expect more of the same in Game Seven -- a low-scoring game that may be 1-0 or 2-1 at the end. Two goals is a huge number in this series because the goalies don't give you anything. That's why the first goal is huge because it might be another hour and half before the next scoring chance comes. And it has to be the right players getting those chances too. That's what Vancouver's coach means when he talks about his veterans getting into the game. It's like the difference between Brett Hull getting a scoring chance and Craig Ludwig getting a scoring chance. Hullie might score on 1-of-5 chances on these goalies while I would not have much of a chance.
I feel good about Dallas in Game Seven, but they have to continue to play their game. Vancouver is at home and that's why you want to have the higher seed -- so that Game Seven is in your building. But on the flip side, you don't want to be down in Game Seven at home where you can start pressing, and that's why the first goal is so important.
The Stars have played like they are not afraid to lose in the last two games and they have confidence in Vancouver. It's right there for them. But they have to continue focusing on the next shift and let everything fall into place.
There's nothing like a Game Seven. It should be high drama and fun to watch.