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.Game Three was another tight one and more of what we expected when this series began. There's a reason why there's seven games in this series (and I think we might see all of them). I don't think either team thought they were going to win four in a row.
Now all of the focus is on Game Four, which is a big game for both teams. Dallas surely doesn't want to fall down in the series, 3-1, heading back to Vancouver. Just like Game Two, Dallas needs to pour everything into Game Four and not worry about anything else. The Stars need to find a way to break Roberto Luongo's confidence and not let the Canucks head back to Vancouver with a chance to close out the series.
Dallas had a lot of momentum coming out of Game Two. I think you have to give a lot of credit to Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault. He found a way to get his team to believe into his philosophy and a game plan because they came out and they played hard on Sunday.
Vancouver had no fear once they tied it and into overtime. Their mentality was, "Let's go win the hockey game," and the Stars need to have more of that, starting in Game Four. Dallas needs to have faith in Marty and get after it on the offensive end and create more chances. Marty is in a zone right now and I bet if you asked him he would say, "Guys I'm OK with you guys going for it on the other end and taking some chances to score and win this game. If there's a 2-on-1 coming back, I'm going to stop it for you. Just go win the hockey game."
Someone has to step up for the Stars. Mike Modano has to be better. Mike Ribeiro has to be better. To me, Ribeiro was our MVP this year. Playoffs are about finding out who's going to show up every night. Playoffs are about wearing players down and getting in their kitchen. Maybe Mo and Ribs aren't actually the guys who score the goals, but they can be a direct reason why someone else did.
We've said it many times: your best players have to be your best players. Someone has to make an impact. Modano, Lehtinen, Nagy, Ribeiro, Morrow -- those are the guys that his team depends on to score. The Stars have to get the puck to the net more, where good things can happen for them. Brenden scores 90 percent of his goals in front of the crease, but he can't do that if the puck doesn't get there. Modano has a cannon for a shot. You have to start using your weapons.
You have to have the mentality, especially at home, to take it to the other team. Dallas has the ability to do it, but they have to commit themselves. I'd like to see the Stars play with a little more aggression. Our good players have to start taking onus on this series. They have to pay the price to get the scoring chances. You have to be willing to go to areas that you don't normally go to. And that's playoff hockey. You have to have the intent or the will to say, "I will do whatever I have to do to get the job done tonight."
It's an attitude and that's what the Stars need. Vancouver came in Sunday night with that attitude. The Stars had that attitude in Game Two. It's having that "want," for me. Dallas has to want it, every player. It's a cliché, but it's true.
Goals are at a premium and the goalies have settled in and that's what we expected from the beginning of this series. When the Stars score the fist goal, which they did Sunday night, you'd like to see them say, "Let's go get the second one right now." It's attitude and commitment and playing without fear. You cannot play scared or careful in the playoffs. That's not what this time of year is all about.
The goalies are holding up their end of the deal. But just because a player was not mentioned to be a big part of this series when it started does not mean he cannot become part of it. We can talk all day about the players with the ability to make a difference for the Stars. But we need to see it, not talk about it.
It's time for someone to step up on Dallas' end.