NBC’s coverage of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs continues with the Second Round matchup between the Avalanche and Stars. Watch the Avalanche-Stars series stream on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.
Key stats: Stars – Avalanche Second Round Series playoff preview
93 – 50
Hart Trophy finalist Nathan MacKinnon finished among the NHL’s scoring leaders with 93 points this season. (MacKinnon also leads all playoff point-getters with 13.)
Meanwhile, Tyler Seguin topped all Stars during the regular season with 50 points — the same as defenseman Cale Makar, who ranked second on the Avalanche. Hearing that Makar ranked second on Colorado would provide more solace if Mikko Rantanen, Gabriel Landeskog, and Nazem Kadri hadn’t all missed significant time with injuries.
(In case you’re wondering, Miro Heiskanen easily leads the Stars in playoff scoring with 12 points.)
30.6 and 3
The Avalanche’s power play erupted against the Coyotes, scoring six goals combined between Games 4 and 5. With that, the Avalanche lead the playoffs in power-play percentage (30.6) and goals (11, despite playing eight games).
On the other end, you have the Stars, who scored six power-play goals, but already allowed three shorthanded goals. Dallas has to hope that the Avalanche don’t have someone who can cause the havoc that Tobias Rieder did (Rieder scored all three of those shorthanded goals).
Interestingly, the Stars boasted a more efficient power play during the regular season (21.1 percent to just 19.1 percent for Colorado). The Avalanche imposed their will with sheer volume, scoring more power-play goals (46 to 42) by generating a league-best 241 power-play opportunities, to just 199 for the Stars.
So, what will it be? Will the special teams battle end up pretty even because officials put their whistles away, or will special teams remain an Avs advantage?
[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]
Despite being just 21, Miro Heiskanen serves as a workhorse for the Stars. He’s averaging 26:06 TOI per game, a big hike from his already-robust regular season average of 23:46. Fascinatingly, the Stars gave Heiskanen a big boost from the 2018-19 regular season to the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs (23:07 TOI to 25:31), too. Dallas hasn’t really been stuck in a bunch of Korpisalo-ian playoff marathons, either, so it’s clear that Heiskanen is being leveraged.
So far, the Avalanche haven’t applied similar burdens. Sure, Cale Makar is similarly beyond-his-years, but his team-leading time on ice average is a modest 21:46. (MacKinnon ranks ahead of every other Avs player, defensemen included, with a 20:10 average).
Those Avs numbers are likely skewed by blowouts. Even so, ice time could be something to watch. Will Colorado remain more balanced (or specialized) ice-time wise against a seemingly keyed-in Stars team?
[PHT predictions for Stars – Avalanche, other Second Round series]
For years, Rick Nash’s lack of playoff puck luck (a career postseason shooting percentage of just six) confounded me. That confusion just about fully transferred to Tyler Seguin.
Actually, Seguin’s lack of bounces is even more severe, at just five percent over 70 career playoff games. So far, Seguin sits at zero goals and three assists in eight games despite registering 21 shots on goal.
Last season, Seguin produced a career-high of … four goals in one postseason (11 points in 13 games, though). Abysmal puck luck might have pushed Seguin out the door in Boston, actually. In 22 games in 2012-13, Seguin only managed one goal (and seven assists) on 70 SOG, good for a squalid 1.4 percent. Yikes.
Something has to give, right? Maybe? Much like with Nash, the sample size is large enough that this is a real head-scratcher. Yet, the Stars advanced with an ice-cold Seguin. If Seguin can heat up, they might just be able to hang in there if their defense can contain the Avalanche’s attack.
That’s a big if, though, and an if made bigger by Seguin’s absolute strange lack of playoff bounces.
No. 2 Colorado Avalanche vs. No. 3 Dallas Stars schedule
Game 1: Saturday, Aug. 22, 8 p.m. ET – NBC
Game 2: Monday, Aug. 24, 9:45 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Game 3: Wednesday, Aug. 26, 10:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Game 4: Sunday, Aug. 30, 6 p.m. ET – NBCSN
*Game 5: Monday, Aug. 31, – TBD
*Game 6: Wednesday, Sept. 2 – TBD
*Game 7: Friday, Sept. 4 – TBD
MORE STANLEY CUP COVERAGE:
• Stanley Cup Playoffs Second Round schedule
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.