Another deep playoff run for Stars coach Pete DeBoer, who’s in NHL 3rd round for 5th time in 6 years

FRISCO, Texas (AP) — Pete DeBoer has gotten used to deep runs in the NHL playoffs, even though he never takes them for granted. The only thing that could make that any better for the veteran coach would be to win it all.

With the Dallas Stars in the Western Conference Final for the second year in a row since he became their coach, this is the seventh time that DeBoer has advanced past the first two rounds. This is his fifth time in six seasons, with three different teams.

“What matters to me is just, honestly, the journey,” DeBoer said. “I obviously haven’t won the whole thing. But whether that deep as a conference final or a final, you galvanize with a group and a team and a bunch of men together through that journey, because it’s so hard and it takes so much sacrifice both personally and on the ice. And that’s the juice that we coach for.”

Joe Pavelski, the 39-year-old Stars forward who too is seeking his first Stanley Cup, also went to the West final twice with DeBoer in San Jose.

“He delivers a good message. I think we’ve felt it all year, talking about it and talking about where we want to go,” Pavelski said Monday. “Especially kind of down the stretch, it was one to create Stanley Cup habits and play meaningful hockey, and do it the right way.”

Top-seeded Dallas eliminating the last two Stanley Cup champions over the past month, and will host Game 1 of the West final on Thursday night.

Only five other coaches have made it to the third round multiple times over the past six seasons. Jon Cooper made it three in a row with Tampa Bay from 2020-22, but Bruce Cassidy is the only other coach to do so with more than one team — Boston in 2019 and last season with Stanley Cup champion Vegas after succeeding DeBoer there.

“Look around the league and you see franchises that celebrate a series win or two series wins to be in the final four,” DeBoer said. “I know that many times is really a privilege. Just got to try and end up in the top spot one of these times.”

DeBoer has reached the Stanley Cup Final twice. Those were in the only other times he made the conference finals: his first season with the New Jersey Devils in 2012, that being his first playoff appearance, and in his Sharks debut in 2016.

This Dallas squad set a franchise record with eight 20-goal scorers during the regular season, but their head coach also stresses defense.

“The thing I like about him and his message since the playoffs started is staying on the defensive side of the puck,” young standout goalie Jake Oettinger said. “We can score with anyone, we have so much offense. He’s really homed in on if we can play good D … if we can shut them down, we’re going to get our chances, and we’re going to score.”

Stars captain and 15-season veteran Jamie Benn — who describes DeBoer as “pretty special” — said this is the deepest team he’s been on in Dallas, deeper than last year’s squad and the one that made the Stanley Cup Final in 2020 after getting by DeBoer and the Golden Knights in the West final.

“He’s an unbelievable defensive coach, but he’s an unbelievable offensive coach, too,” said forward Matt Duchene, who joined the Stars this season and had the game-winning goal in double overtime of Game 6 that wrapped up their second-round series at Colorado. “Guys like me, he lets us play. He encourages us. He wants us to play, to be offensive. That’s kind of our identity. This team has been a really good defensive team for a long time. … They beat you 2-1 in the past, and the last year they started beating you 5-1.”


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