mcloudyn.png
Friday September 18th, 2020 8:06PM

Stars overcame major stumbles to reach Stanley Cup Final

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — Inside a lounge at the JW Marriott usually reserved for their meals and meetings, the Dallas Stars enjoyed a moment.

It wasn't an all-out party because they are still four wins away from winning the Stanley Cup. It was a low-key celebration of reaching the final, a significant accomplishment for a team that has been through some real challenges in recent years.

"To watch the staff, the players — some guys that have never lived this before — it was very exciting," general manager Jim Nill said. “There’s guys that have been on this team for a long time and never been this far. It’s an exciting time for them. But we do know that there is one more step here yet.”

The steps to this point included plenty of stumbles. Remember when CEO Jim Lites ripped captain Jamie Benn and top center Tyler Seguin for being “terrible?” That was December 2018. Or how about this past December, when the Stars abruptly fired coach Jim Montgomery for unprofessional conduct?

Add in being eliminated in a heartbreaking double-overtime Game 7 loss in the second round last season to eventual champion St. Louis, and things haven't been easy for Dallas on or off the ice. That adversity is one major reason the franchise is in its first final since 2000.

Seguin said the Stars believe they are are never out of a game.

“There’s just been so much stuff that’s happened to us that we always seem to rise to the occasion,” he said. “Because of those experiences as a group, we have that confidence, that composure and that ability to get the job done when we need it most.”

Not terrible for a team that made the playoffs just three times in the past 11 seasons. Since Nill took the reins in 2013, the Stars have four playoff appearances and are now in the final on their fourth coach in as many seasons after Rick Bowness took over for Montgomery.

Perhaps they wouldn't have gotten this far if Montgomery were the coach, or if Nill picked one of his other two assistants with previous experience to take over. He chose the 65-year-old hockey lifer as the interim replacement because Bowness had been around an extra year. It has worked out.

“It’s been a crazy year for all of us and I’m sure especially him,” Benn said. “To come in halfway through the year and jump right back into a head coaching role, it can’t be that easy, but he’s done a great job with us.”

It wasn't easy for Benn or Seguin to take criticism from Lites and others about their play and their big-ticket contracts. When they helped Dallas make the 2019 playoffs, that run ended with Patrick Maroon 's goal for the Blues in the second overtime — one victory shy of the Western Conference final.

“You learn from that, you get in those situations and that makes you stronger, makes you hungrier and that’s where we’re at,” Nill said. “You’ve got to learn to lose before you win.”

Barry Trotz knows that well. The New York Islanders coach stepped into his previous job with Washington after the Capitals had absorbed six early playoff exits, and Trotz had three of his own before winning the Stanley Cup in 2018.

“There’s very few teams in any sport (that) have sort of put a group together and they’ve won a championship right away without maybe a little bit of failure on the way,” Trotz said. "How you focus with defeat, how you pick yourself up after a tough loss or a game that doesn’t go your way individually or collectively — that’s what builds winners or champions."

To become champions, the Stars still need to win one more series. Barclay Goodrow and the Tampa Bay Lightning could next be up next.

“They’re in the Stanley Cup Final for a reason,” said Goodrow, who played against Dallas the past several seasons while with San Jose. “They defend hard. They just find ways to win. It’s not a fluke why they made it to the finals.”

After being outshot 166-118 by Vegas in the second round and leaning on goaltender Anton Khudobin to make some timely saves, the Stars aren't apologizing for moving on to the final. Nill agreed with Goodrow that “it's not a fluke,” and now his team gets to keep proving that.

"I definitely believe we deserve to be here," he said. “Our guys have stuck with it. They believe in themselves, they’re hardened and they’re resilient and that’s what you have to be in the playoffs. You’re not going to make it very far in the playoffs if you’re not resilient, and we have a resilient group of guys.”

___

More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Hockey
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
City to pay $12M to Breonna Taylor's family, reform police
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer says the city has agreed to a settlement with the family of Breonna Taylor that includes a $12 million payment and police reforms after the Black woman was fatally shot by police who burst into her home at night
6:43PM ( 14 minutes ago )
'Huge rainmaker': Hurricane Sally threatens historic floods
Heavy rain and pounding surf driven by Hurricane Sally are hitting the Florida and Alabama coasts
6:27PM ( 31 minutes ago )
Israel signs pacts with 2 Arab states: A 'new' Mideast?
Israel on Tuesday signed historic diplomatic pacts with two Gulf Arab states at a White House ceremony that President Donald Trump declared would mark the “dawn of a new Middle East.”
6:25PM ( 32 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
World Series at Arlington, first time at one site since 1944
The World Series will be played entirely at the Texas Rangers’ new ballpark in Arlington, Texas, and Major League Baseball hopes fans can attend
5:59PM ( 58 minutes ago )
Stars overcame major stumbles to reach Stanley Cup Final
The Dallas Stars are savoring their trip to the Stanley Cup Final
5:53PM ( 1 hour ago )
Senator: Allowing college athletes NIL pay is 'huge mistake'
The fourth congressional hearing this year on how to allow college athletes to earn money off their names, images and likenesses came with a stern warning
5:41PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Sports
Stars in Stanley Cup Final after being outscored and outshot
The Dallas Stars are still playing, even after being outscored and outshot in the NHL bubble
5:58AM ( 13 hours ago )
Stars on to Stanley Cup Final after 3-2 OT win over Vegas
Denis Gurianov scored on a one-timer during a power play 3:36 into overtime, and the Dallas Stars beat the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2 to advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2000
12:52AM ( 18 hours ago )
Top players have Lightning on verge of first final since '15
The Tampa Bay Lightning are one win away from the Stanley Cup Final because their best players have been dominant
7:03PM ( 23 hours ago )
AP Online Hockey
City to pay $12M to Breonna Taylor's family, reform police
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer says the city has agreed to a settlement with the family of Breonna Taylor that includes a $12 million payment and police reforms after the Black woman was fatally shot by police who burst into her home at night
6:43PM ( 14 minutes ago )
'Huge rainmaker': Hurricane Sally threatens historic floods
Heavy rain and pounding surf driven by Hurricane Sally are hitting the Florida and Alabama coasts
6:27PM ( 31 minutes ago )
Israel signs pacts with 2 Arab states: A 'new' Mideast?
Israel on Tuesday signed historic diplomatic pacts with two Gulf Arab states at a White House ceremony that President Donald Trump declared would mark the “dawn of a new Middle East.”
6:25PM ( 32 minutes ago )
Shooting outside US court in Phoenix wounds federal officer
Authorities say a drive-by shooting has wounded a federal court security officer outside the U.S. courthouse in downtown Phoenix and a person has been taken into custody
6:18PM ( 39 minutes ago )
For television executives, return of football is good news
Pro football has never been more important to television executives as it is this year, and its return is cause for celebration
6:12PM ( 46 minutes ago )