DALLAS — Having failed to advance deep in the playoffs themselves, select members of the Dallas Cowboys came to the American Airlines Center on Tuesday night to see how these things are done in what was was apparently “Football Night.”
Dak Prescott was there to watch the Dallas Stars along with select teammates Zack Martin, Peyton Hendershot, Tyler Smith, Jake Ferguson, Terence Steele and a few others.
Also on hand was Troy Aikman, and former Texas A&M great, Cleveland Browns star Myles Garrett.
The other famous footballer, who crashed the Cowboys’ suite, on hand was current XFL great and America’s Guest, ex-Cowboys star quarterback Ben DiNucci. The guy could host a podcast how to score free seats, and free advertising.
They all had a good time, as did just about everyone else inside the AAC to watch the Stars pop the Minnesota Wild, 4-0.
The Stars lead the series 3-2, and unofficially this thing is over. The Stars are the better team. They can close out the series in Game 6 on Friday night in St. Paul, Minn.
While Dak and his teammates haven’t exactly flourished in the playoffs, the Stars are for one major reason: They are built for it, right down to the young goalie who continues to show Eagle traits.
Whereas Dak has not mastered the postseason, Dallas Stars goalie Jake Oettinger has no problem with it.
On Tuesday night, he stopped all 27 shots he faced to deliver the first shutout in these NHL playoffs. You read that right.
Oettinger’s shutout was the first of these entire NHL playoffs. Also, it was the first shutout at home by a Stars goalie since 2016.
After nearly beating the Calgary Flames in the first round last season in a series that went seven games because of Jake Oettinger, this young man is way beyond 24.
“He does not look like a 24-year-old goalie,” Stars coach Peter DeBoer said after the game. “He’s doing special things for being at the point in his career he’s at.”
“Look at the (great) goalies over their history, not many did the things he’s doing at this stage in terms of carrying the load he’s carrying. It’s a great sign for the next decade.”
One of those great goalies was in the building on Tuesday night. Eddie “The Eagle” Belfour was in a suite watching his old team.
Belfour is more than 20 years removed from his brilliant days with the Stars, but when you look into those haunting blue eyes you’re still not sure who, or what, is home. All things are on the table.
When Belfour was carrying the Stars to consecutive Stanley Cup appearances in 1999 and 2000, he was 33 and 34. He had been in the NHL for more than a decade.
The NHL has changed dramatically since Belfour was in net, and the league is no longer goalie-first (thank God). You’re seeing younger goalies carry teams to Stanley Cups.
You’re also seeing teams routinely flip goalies like a drunk Vegas black jack dealer in the hopes one of them can stick for more than a season or two before their fragile brains explode.
Since Belfour walked out the door the most stable goalie they had was Marty Turco, and his run ended more than 10 years ago. They had Ben Bishop for a while. Kari Lehtonen was given countless chances. A bunch of Finnish guys whose names are too difficult to spell correctly.
For a while Empty Net looked better than anyone on the roster.
Anton Khudobin had a nice run in the Bubble Cup in 2020.
The Stars searched for forever, and Oettinger repeatedly looks like he’s going to stick rather than prove he can’t stand up to what is one of the most difficult positions in all of pro sports.
It’s not preposterous to think a goalie as young as Oettinger could win a Stanley Cup in what is essentially his second career NHL playoffs.
The Stars are better than the Wild for a variety of reasons, the goalie being near the top of the list.
The Stars can win the Stanley Cup for a variety of reasons, the goalie being near the top of the list.
Dak might be wise to look hard and long at that young man in net.