June 19th, 2024

‘He’s a warrior’: Stars defenceman Chris Tanev suits up for Game 5 of WCF

By Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press on May 31, 2024.

Edmonton Oilers centre Connor McDavid competes for the puck against Dallas Stars defenceman Chris Tanev (3) during NHL playoff action, Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Dallas. Stars head coach Pete DeBoer is "optimistic" Tanev will play in tonight's Game 5 of the NHL's Western Conference final against the Edmonton Oilers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Tony Gutierrez

DALLAS – Chris Tanev gave it a go in Game 5 of the NHL’s Western Conference final Friday.

The bruising – and bruised – Dallas Stars defenceman was in the lineup against the Edmonton Oilers after taking a shot off his right foot in the second period of Game 4.

Dallas head coach Pete DeBoer said Friday morning he was “optimistic” the shutdown blueliner would be an option with the Stars and Oilers tied 2-2 in their best-of-seven series after not returning to action Wednesday night in Edmonton.

The Toronto product had averaged 22 minutes 33 seconds of ice time in the playoffs heading into Friday.

The Stars made one lineup change, with Ty Dellandrea replacing centre Radek Faksa. The Oilers also tweaked their look up front as Sam Carrick subbed in for Derek Ryan.

Game 6 of the best-of-seven matchup goes Sunday in Edmonton. Game 7, if necessary, would be Tuesday back in Dallas.

The Stars went 16-4-0 in the regular season and won two playoff rounds after acquiring Tanev from the Calgary Flames about a week before the NHL trade deadline in exchange for a prospect, a second-round pick, and a conditional third-round selection.

“Huge part of our group,” DeBoer said before the game. “He affects all kinds of parts of the game.”

“He’s a warrior,” Stars forward Jason Robertson added. “All you gotta do is look at his (toothless) smile, and you’ll see how tough he is.”

Dallas had limited options if Tanev couldn’t go. Jani Hakanpaa (lower-body injury) isn’t ready to return after getting hurt in mid-March, while rookie blueliner Lian Bichsel – the 18th pick at the 2022 draft – has yet to suit up for an NHL game.

“I’m physical, I’m aggressive,” said the six-foot-six Swede, who played 16 post-season contests with the AHL’s Texas Stars this spring. “I’m the mean guy on the ice.”

Robertson, who had a hat trick in his team’s 5-3 victory in Game 3, said Tanev has been a welcome addition since arriving in Dallas.

“One of those hockey guys – hockey nerd guys – who likes talking about it,” Robertson said. “Just a great guy. Off the ice, very quiet. But it’s another voice in this locker room.

“Another guy that we can lean on.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 31, 2024.

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