DALLAS -- It was special teams that decided Game 5. Anaheim was 4-for-6 on the power play, while the Stars were 0-for-7. The discrepancy was startling for the Stars, who had held the Ducks without a power play goal since early in Game 1 before the barrage on Friday. Anaheim skated out with a lopsided win and a chance to end the series on Sunday in Dallas.
"We’re going to change that up," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "It’s not working. The units are going to change. I think we’re getting a little bit of net focus and there’s not enough deception and I think that comes with frustration from not scoring. So that part is going to change."
What exactly that means remains to be seen. Ruff could perhaps move defenseman Trevor Daley to the top unit and see if that helps things work better. Or he could look at breaking up Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, splitting up the two top scorers to even out the first- and second-team units. Or maybe Ruff just wants an overall change of approach, rather than change of personnel.
We'll see. But it was clear the Stars' coach wasn't happy with how the power play unit performed in critical junctures during the first five games of the series. Dallas was 0-for-6 on the power play in Games 3 and 4 (both wins) and has just two goals in 24 opportunities in the series, the second-worst percentage (8.3) in the playoffs. That's nearly half of their regular-season percentage (15.9).
The changes could be just one more way that Ruff is looking ahead, rather than behind. He's never been one to dwell on past games -- good or bad -- choosing to quickly apply lessons and move on.
"This is a whole new experience for a lot of these guys," Ruff said about the playoffs. "I expected some of these bumps. [Friday] night hurt. But we have spent no time on the past and after I leave you guys, she’s all over."
Sunday is the first elimination game for many of these Stars' players and they get a chance to see how they respond in that type of environment. It helps them that the game is at American Airlines Center, where they've won both of their games in this series.
"That’s one thing with experience, you get it from playing and being in those situations," forward Shawn Horcoff said. "We have enough guys in the locker room that have been there before. Everyone that has been there knows that the fourth game is the hardest game to win in a series. The pressure is squarely on them now to come in and win a game in our building, where we have been good. We have to take confidence in the fact that we can play our type of game tomorrow and try to take it to a Game 7, where anything can happen."