DALLAS -- Jonas Hiller didn't play the way he wanted to down the stretch during the regular season. He waffled just enough to lose his job and had to watch as youngster Frederik Andersen got the chance to start in the first round of the playoffs.
For many goalies, spiraling from the ice to the bench while your team was playing in the playoffs would be enough to lose any mental edge you might have acquired during the season. Sure, you tell yourself you have to be ready to play. But do you really believe it?
“It’s definitely not easy," Hiller said after playing a critical part in winning Game 6 and, consequently, the series on Sunday. "Yeah, I definitely had days where I would go, 'Hockey sucks.'"
But Hiller said things would change when he got to the rink.
"We have a great group of guys here," Hiller said. "They’re always helping each other out. Yeah, it’s fun to come to the dressing room. It’s almost impossible to be miserable around those guys, so yeah, I’m trying to stay positive."
Hiller was called upon twice in the series -- both times in Dallas. He came in with his team down two goals in the third period of Game 4 and kept the Stars out of the net, though Dallas got the 4-2 win to even the series. Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau didn't wait as long on Sunday, pulling Andersen midway through the second period when Trevor Daley scored to give the Stars a two-goal lead.
Dallas had the momentum and was controlling play. But Hiller made sure four goals would all they would get. He was tested with a quick shot just seconds into the game and responded. He stopped all 12 shots he faced and didn't allow the Stars to get that one additional insurance goal that would have sent the series back to Anaheim for Game 7. That wasn't something a team that lost Games 6 and 7 to Detroit last year, including the final game at home, needed.
"I’m going to enjoy it right now and kind of go from there," Hiller said. "Right now, I’ll enjoy it and kind of like take the confidence and good feeling about that win with me and hopefully I get the chance to play more."
He has to play more. It will be difficult after benching Andersen twice for Boudreau to go back to him now.
"It's the stuff we knew he could do," Boudreau said. "We know he's a great goalie, but he hadn't done it in the month of March and April."
Boudreau said Andersen woke up sick, but said he was able to play. The coach wondered if that's why Andersen wasn't sharp. Either way, Boudreau has more goalie questions to answer before the second round starts, though this one shouldn't be too difficult. Boudreau was asked if Hiller will start later this week against San Jose or Los Angeles.
"I'm sure that thought's going to cross my mind," Boudreau said. "I've got to believe there's going to be a lot of talk into it. We have a few days off and let everything settle and make a decision."