DALLAS (AP) — Dallas Stars coach Pete DeBoer pulled his goalie twice in seven games in the Western Conference semifinals against Seattle.
Jake Oettinger didn’t take either move as a sign of panic. Quite the opposite, which the 24-year-old goalie believes helps explain DeBoer’s perfect record in Game 7s in his coaching career.
“I think if your coach is back there freaking out and hitting the panic button every time you lose, I think that trickles down into the group,” Oettinger said. “He’s the exact opposite of that.”
DeBoer reached 7-0 in winner-take-all meetings with the Stars’ 2-1 victory over the Kraken on Monday night. He’s the third coach to win a Game 7 with four different teams.
Dallas plays one of those teams, the Vegas Golden Knights, in the West final starting Friday night in Las Vegas. DeBoer was fired after Vegas missed the playoffs last season.
“There’s a lot to unpack there,” DeBoer said with a laugh. “I think we’ll just enjoy tonight and talk about that as we go forward.”
The only coach in the four major pro sports to win more Game 7s without a loss was Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer Red Auerbach, who was 8-0 with the NBA’s Boston Celtics.
The pulling of Oettinger in a 7-2 loss in Game 3 and again in a 6-3 loss in Game 6 was never anything more than a reset. Oettinger starting the next game was never in doubt, and he won both.
“I appreciate that coming from Jake, who for me is our calming presence as a team with how he plays,” DeBoer said when told of Oettinger’s take on his coach’s calm demeanor.
“It’s something you learn as a coach,” DeBoer said. “I think you come into the league fiery and excitable and you realize you can have more impact picking your spots and being a calming presence when there’s a lot of chaos going on.”
DeBoer is the first coach to lead four different teams to the conference final in his first season. He’s also one series victory away from taking a third team to the Stanley Cup Final in his debut.
With New Jersey in 2011-12, DeBoer’s first career playoff series went seven games as the Devils beat Florida on the way to the Cup final.
Four years later in his first season with San Jose, DeBoer won his second Game 7 in the West semifinals against Nashville.
There were two Game 7 victories with the Sharks in 2019 against Vegas and Colorado before a six-game defeat to St. Louis in the West finals.
DeBoer took over the Golden Knights midseason in 2019-20, winning a Game 7 over Vancouver in the playoff bubble in Canada before losing to the Stars in the West finals.
Vegas beat Minnesota in Game 7 of a first-round series in 2021.
“Game 7, there’s a lot of emotion,” DeBoer said. “The guys are wound up. There’s nobody that isn’t ready to play and give everything they’ve got. They know the stakes.”
The other two coaches to win Game 7s with four different teams are Darryl Sutter (Chicago, San Jose, Calgary and the Los Angeles Kings) and Scotty Bowman (St. Louis, Montreal, Pittsburgh and Detroit).
Sutter and Bowman won multiple Stanley Cups. The 54-year-old DeBoer is seeking his first.
“He believes in this group of guys and that if we do what he’s teaching us and what we do as a group well, I think if we do that, he believes we can win the Cup,” Oettinger said. “Belief starts and ends with him, and his demeanor trickles down to the whole group.”
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