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Dickinson working hard, having fun in first taste of playoffs

The young forward just wants to do his part in a greater team effort -- and he's done exactly that against Nashville

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer

Jason Dickinson lying on his back laughing might be the best image of this first-round playoff series for the Stars.

The 23-year-old forward was driving the net and was so intense that when he jumped around a Predators defenseman in Game 5, he fell to his stomach and slid at goalie Pekka Rinne. While the incident was minor and Dickinson glided past the goal line to the end boards, Nashville defenseman Mattias Ekholm had to deliver a message with several crosschecks to Dickinson, who was still down on the ice.

All Dickinson could do was giggle as he took the abuse.

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With best players leading way, Stars happy to follow

Benn, Seguin and Radulov combine for seven points in Dallas' Game 5 win to show just how dangerous they can be

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Stars have been a hard-scoring team all season, and maybe that's why there's been so much hoopla surrounding their top players.

Both Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn saw their scoring ranking fall this season -- after being among the top 10 in scoring for the previous five seasons combined -- so some wondered if that was one reason the team was just 28th overall in putting the puck in the net. Others said the gap between the top three and the rest of the team was among the worst in the league, and that was the real problem.

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Montgomery's plan for Stars coming together at right time

Formulated last summer, the philosophy of the first-year coach is proving helpful as postseason pressure increases

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- When we sat down in the summer before he even coached in one practice, Stars coach Jim Montgomery laid out his philosophy, and it was indeed intriguing.

Montgomery said he wanted everyone to offer ideas -- from the assistant coaches to the players to the video staff -- but that the ultimate decision was his. He said he wanted to be surrounded by smart people, smarter than himself even, but that in the end one person had to have the final say.

"I know that if we're only relying on my ideas, we'll become predictable and we simply won't be the best team we can be," Montgomery said before the season. "I respect other people's ideas and I want to use the best ideas. I want to be the best team, and I think you need to look outside of yourself to do that."

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Under-the-radar Lindell exemplifying Stars' defense with effective play

A month shy of his 25th birthday, the fun-loving blueliner is quietly 'becoming the man' for Dallas

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer

There has been much talk in the Stars' first-round playoff series against Nashville that the Predators have one of the best group of defensemen in the NHL.

And when you consider that P.K. Subban has won the Norris Trophy and twice been named a first-team NHL All-Star, and that captain Roman Josi has twice represented the Predators in the NHL All-Star Game, or that unsung Ryan Ellis was the 11th overall pick in 2009 and just signed an eight-year contract extension for $50 million, well, there's a lot to like there.

But as the Stars have tried to show their defensive moxie in a best-of-seven series that's now tied at two games apiece, their trio of blueliners also has looked good.

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Roope's rise: Rookie continues to prove he belongs with statement game

The center drives the Stars' offense, potting a pair of goals in a lopsided Game 4 whipping of Nashville to even the series

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer

Roope Hintz won just one of 14 faceoffs in Game 2 of the Stars' first-round playoff series with the Nashville Predators on Saturday.

He came back to Dallas, worked with assistant coach Stu Barnes and then went 15-for-29 in his next two games.

"I think I was unlucky in some ways, and not as good in some ways," Hintz said when asked about the tough night in the circle. "But then you come back and work hard and you fix it. That's just what you do."

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'Fire to play' helping Spezza work hard to get back in lineup

Despite being a healthy scratch to open the postseason, the veteran never stopped preparing to make a return

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer

Jason Spezza has had plenty of practice time in recent weeks.

The man who had his first healthy scratch in more than a decade last season was sat out for four of the final 10 regular-season games and the first two games of the playoffs this year. So he made the most of the extra skating and worked on every aspect of his game.

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Rough night for Bishop swings pressure back to Stars

Dallas was the better team in Game 3, but some 'unfortunate bounces' help hand Nashville the win and series lead

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer

Goalies … it had to be goalies.

Like Indiana Jones wielding his whip and facing his greatest fear, Stars fans on Monday fell back into a pit that seemed all too familiar.

Yes, Ben Bishop is in the argument for best netminder in the league this year. Yes, he set a franchise record for save percentage. Yes, you figured you were past talking about goalies in a loss.

And yet, here we are.

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'This is the fun part': Adjustments, injuries creating drama in playoffs

You didn't think this was going to be easy, did you? The real dance and decision-making begins now for the Stars

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer

What? You didn't think this was going to be easy, did you?

Not unlike winning the Iron Throne, winning the Stanley Cup takes pain, anguish and drama. So we're just getting started.

As hard as all of these twists and turns are for you at home on the couch (or screaming in Section 318), imagine what's going through the respective heads of the players and coaches. There was copious information gathered in Games 1 and 2 and the strategical minds of these two teams processed those numbers on Sunday.

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'Big brother' Fiddler helping guide, support Stars in postseason

The former Dallas and Nashville player is 'having a lot of fun' in his new role as organizational coach

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- It was just two years ago that Vernon Fiddler was playing in the Stanley Cup Final in this building.

The scrappy, versatile forward was finishing up a 14-year NHL career and helped the Nashville Predators get four rounds deep before they succumbed in seven games to the eventual champion Pittsburgh Penguins. That's one of the talents the 38-year-old Fiddler brings to the Stars' coaching staff as they try to forge their own history this season.

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Grind-it-out play might be what it takes for Stars to win series

Dallas received a good lesson in skill versus work during its OT loss to Nashville - now how will it respond back home?

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Generally speaking, we want hockey to be this beautiful, skilled ballet -- a blending of speed and acrobatic puck handling, mixed with some hard hits and big saves.

And we want it like that more than ever in the playoffs.

At the most exciting, intense time of year, we want the ultimate.

But it often doesn't happen that way. The problem with playoff hockey, sometimes, is it can be cautious and grinding and methodical. It can be boring even, and certainly frustrating.

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