With the Stanley Cup Playoffs set to begin Wednesday, CSNWashington.com is previewing each of the eight first round matchups.
ANAHEIM (P1) VS. DALLAS (WC2)
Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: A Bruce Boudreau coached hockey team finished atop its conference, was the highest scoring team in the NHL, has two of the game’s premier scorers and enters the postseason with questions regarding its starting goaltending. Questions also surround this team regarding its ability to translate regular season success into postseason glory.
No doubt, it’s a familiar script for Boudreau, who once again leads a dominant regular season club into hockey’s second season, as the Anaheim Ducks prepare to face the Dallas Stars in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Ducks enter the postseason as Pacific Division champions for the second straight season, but Anaheim will be looking for a better playoff result after falling at home in Game 7 of last year’s first round series against the Detroit Red Wings.
Boudreau’s career postseason record is 20-24, including 1-4 in Game 7s with home-ice advantage.
“I really hope that everyone remembers that feeling from last year,” 21-year veteran Teemu Selanne told reporters this week.
“The regular season was very similar, but we just couldn’t take the next step. I think that we all learned from that, we’re pretty much the same team so I really believe that last year’s experience can help us this year.”
[RELATED: Grind-it-out affair: Lightning vs Canadiens]
DALLAS WEEK: Unlike a year ago, when the Ducks faced off against the playoff savvy Red Wings, the Stars are a relatively inexperienced bunch when it comes to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
While Ray Whitney (Carolina, 2006), Sergei Gonchar (Pittsburgh, 2009), Tyler Seguin (Boston, 2011) and Tim Thomas (Boston, 2011) have all won the Stanley Cup, the Stars have 13 players who will be making their Stanley Cup Playoff debuts tonight in Game 1.
That list includes captain Jamie Benn, who had a career-high 34 goals and 79 points, and former Caps prospect Cody Eakin who chipped in with 16 goals and 35 points while centering the Stars’ third line.
Speaking of former Capitals, Ducks center Mathieu Perreault also returns to the postseason after leading the Caps with four points in seven playoff games in 2013.
DYNAMIC DUOS: The Ducks and Stars are the only teams to have at least two players finish among the NHL’s top 10 scoring leaders this season. Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf trailed only Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby with 87 points on the year, while Corey Perry finished 5th in League scoring with 82 points for the season.
Seguin finished 4th in League scoring for Dallas with a career-high 37 goals and 84 points, while Benn’s 79 points were good for 10th best on the circuit.
GOALTENDING QUESTIONS: Despite winning 14 straight games earlier this season, Ducks No.1 goalie Jonas Hiller was relegated to backup duty down the stretch, starting only once in the final eight games of the regular season.
Frederik Andersen, started the final four games of the season- all wins- and the 24-year-old was told a few days ago that he will start Game 1 against Dallas. Anderson went 20-5-0 this season with a 2.29 goals-against-average and .923 save percentage.
“I just think, right now, Andersen's played the best,” Boudreau told reporters. “He gives us the best chance to win, so he'll be the one starting. It doesn't mean he'll be starting Game 2, but he's starting Game 1.”
Boudreau has been known to change goalies early in a series, doing so in 2009 and 2010 in Washington when Jose Theodore was replaced two straight years by Semyon Varlamov.
Dallas starts Kari Lehtonen, whose postseason experience is limited to a couple of appearances with the 2007 Atlanta Thrashers.
CHUCK GORMLEY: ANAHEIM IN 6
BEN RABY: ANAHEIM IN 5