"It's a juggernaut": Supreme confidence in Dallas that powerhouse Stars will dominate Edmonton Oilers

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Dallas Stars  commentators and fans aren’t just convinced that the Stars have a solid edge over the Edmonton Oilers in the NHL’s Western Conference finals, they see the Stars as owning the Oilers, ready to dominate them, just as they say the Stars did in winning their first two playoff rounds against the previous two Stanley Cup champions, the Vegas Golden Knights and the Colorado Avalanche.

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If the Oilers are looking for bulletin board material, there’s a motherlode to be found on Dallas sports blogs and podcasts, where the Dallas team aren’t just seen as giant slayers, but as ready to make the Oilers their marks, their patsies, their hand puppets.

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Here’s a sample of what can be found, and I’ll save the two most outrageous examples (both movie analogies) of Dallas Stars supremacy attitudes for moment, as they’re worth the wait.

Suffice it to say, confidence that the Stars will get by Edmonton is rock solid in Dallas.

At the Spits and Suds podcast, NHL insider Sean Shapiro said,  “I honestly think Dallas has gone through the two tougher opponents. When it comes to depth, either way, to me, Colorado was a tougher team …. Vegas was a tougher team.”

Connor McDavid’s Oilers make sense as the next team for Dallas to beat, said commentator Gavin Spittle. “They (Dallas) have already gone through a gauntlet , so might as well add the best player in the world.”

Spittle continued: “The styles that have normally given the Stars issues are no longer factors. In other words, you just played two teams that during the regular season gave you a lot of issues. They’re heavy and they come at you hard. And we saw in prior years that really hurt the Stars as far as getting out of their own zone. And that slowed the speed factor for the Stars. And the Stars have found a way to win a lot of board battles and get it out of their zone quick”

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He later added he preferred Edmonton over Vancouver as an opponent: “I think the Stars can match the speed of Edmonton and I’d much rather go against the Edmonton carousel of goaltending.”

Over at the Stargazing puckcast, commentator Wes Lawrence said he’s not been so confident in years, even as the Stars lost Game 5 to Colorado. “When they lost Game 5, my panic level was zero. This team has been good now for a couple of seasons. And this team reminds me of the ’90s when Dallas was an elite team and they did elite team things.”

And now we get to the good stuff, Lawrence’s comparison of the dominance of the Dallas Stars to the character of Rorschach in the movie The Watchman.

Lawrence described how in the movie a vigilante character named Rorschach had put a lot of criminals in jail. When he was put in jail himself, the inmates were ready to come after him. In the line-up for lunch, one of them went at Rorschach, but he poured a vat of boiling oil over his assailant and rasped, “You don’t seem to understand: I’m not locked in here with you. You’re locked in here with me.”

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That’s the way it is for teams now facing the Dallas Stars, Lawrence said, such as the Oilers. “They’re trapped in here with us, right? We’re not trapped in here with them.”

Before every series, Dallas fans — jilted by years of playoffs losses — worry about what will happen in each series and how it could go wrong, but there’s no need for that. “Other teams are afraid of Dallas, right?” Lawrence said. “Like this is no longer a plucky Anton Khudodin-inspired bubble Cup run, right? This is no longer a team that is kind of riding waves… They were better roster-wise than Las Vegas and they were better roster-wise than Colorado and they beat both of those teams and they deserved to, right?”

Added commentator Mark Zimmerman: “This is a team that had really good parts and it’s gelled as a team in those couple of months (since the All-Star break) And at this point, it’s a juggernaut.”

On the Podman Rush podcast, billed as the Official Podcast of the Dallas Stars, long-time Dallas hockey writer Mike Heika also expressed confidence about the coming Oilers series. “It just seems lot like Colorado. You know you’re going to have to stop the best guys.  And they have a blueprint of dong that.”

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Team insider Daryl “Razor” Reaugh, the team’s broadcaster for almost 30 years now, was most bullish on the Stars in this series, saying: “This ‘could’ be quick. ‘Could’ in quotes. ‘Could.’ They got a team (Edmonton) that went seven; their success is predicated on a lot of the same things as the Avalanche.”

Reaugh continued: “It’s a rested Stars team, not a Stars team that went seven. They are the best team in the Western Conference. They proved it in the regular season. They’re proving it in the playoffs. Their discipline should neuter the Oilers wicked power play somewhat, I would think. And they don’t take a ton of needless penalties. They have better goaltending. I think the Stars d-corps is better with the puck. They have a deeper forward group. They have a way more experienced coach.”

This is the best version of the Oilers in the McDavid Era, Reaugh said, but as for Edmonton’s big scorers  Draisaitl and McDavid, he noted: “What the Stars have been able to do with them is frustrate them. And make them look frustrated.”

Reaugh, a former Oilers goalie, also talked about the party scene in the Ice District and the sold out watch party at Edmonton’s downtown arena for Game 7 against the Canucks. “They’re all frothy up there… Just imagine how disappointed they’re all going to be at the end of this… I can’t see see that team beating this team in a best of seven series. I just can’t. I cannot. I will not.”

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In their last regular season, the Stars gave a “beat down” to the Oilers, Reaugh noted, then he made his own movie analogy about the Stars’ dominance over the Oilers in recent decades, comparing it to the dominance of fictional Texas oil man Daniel Plainview over his patsy competitors, as he stole the oil right from beneath them, all of depicted in the gritty movie There Will Be Blood.

Reaugh quoted word-for-word what Plainview said to one of his vanquished business foes: “If you have a milkshake and I have a milkshake and I have a straw, there it is. It’s a straw is, you see. Watch it. Now my straw reaches across the room and starts to drink your milkshake. I drink your milkshake. I drink it up!”

Said Reaugh: “That is the history of the Dallas Stars versus the Alberta Oil Men. They (Dallas) have sipped their milkshake repeatedly. And now with a trophy and a banner on the line, they get to put that on the line…. Think about the milkshake and the straws. That’s what happened.”

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My take

1. Reaugh is one of the best and most colourful hockey commentators in the world. That all NHL commentators could speak with his wit and insight. That said, what he just said about the Oilers is damn fine bulletin board material, especially as it comes from such a Dallas insider, the Bob Stauffer of the Dallas scene, and was broadcast on the “Official Dallas Stars Podcast.”

2. If the Oilers had just defeated the last two Stanley Cup champions, if the Oilers had been the best team in the regular season, if the Oilers had given the Dallas Stars beat downs for the past two decades and in their final battle of the 2023-24 regular season, I’d probably be as supremely confident of the Oilers as Reaugh, Lawrence and the others in Dallas are of the Stars.

3. The Stars are indeed a juggernaut. They were able to effectively shut down Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar at key moments, though it’s worth noting Colorado was also knocked off stride by suddenly losing top-scoring winger Valeri Nichushkin during before Game 4.

4. A lot will have to go right for Edmonton to win this series. I see it going seven games. If it goes that far, it means the two teams are relatively close and anything can happen. As an Oilers fan, I’ll pick the Oil in seven. If I was betting cold cash, though, I’d bet on the Stars, as I’m not interested in letting any betting house drink my milkshake.

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5. I should add that I see no over-confidence in the Dallas players and coaches. They’re not chest-thumping and throwing out movie analogies about their dominance over opponents. In fact, coach Peter DeBoer comes across as measured, disciplined, humble and sage in his media conferences. The Oilers are up against a powerhouse opponent.

P.S. Oh, by the way, after Kris Knoblauch took over the Oilers in November, Edmonton had 97 points in 69 games, Dallas had 94 points in 69 games. Edmonton’s goal differential was +72. Dallas was +55.

Just sayin’.

For what it’s worth, which is zilch. As former Edmonton Oilers d-man Ladi Smid said on X-Twitter today, the games are decided on the ice, not on a computer.

Whatever the stats, whatever is said, is meaningless. The players will decide the outcome.

GrA 12 games

At the Cult of Hockey

STAPLES: “Tanev chose Dallas over Edmonton” Insider stuff on big deadline day action

STAPLES: Knoblauch made all the right moves to beat Vancouver, but will it be enough? 

STAPLES: Player grades for Game 7

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