Used to be a guy could look around the NHL in September and have a pretty good feel for things. Like who would be in the playoffs – who would be out – who would be close. Like that.
Not any more.
How about this – a seven-team turnover for the playoffs from last spring to this? Seven. Out of sixteen. Here’s another one – entering the final day of this season NONE of the eight playoff series matchups were set. NONE.
If you had the defending champs and the Boston Bruins out last September – go buy a lottery ticket. If you had the Stars in – you weren’t alone.
At least a five-team turnover in 8 of the last 10 springs – welcome to salary-cap hockey.
You’re reading this you’re probably a fan and know that this season is far from a disaster for the Dallas Stars. Far from a disaster. More wins and points than last season when they were in – more goals than everybody but Tampa, big improvements in lotsa areas – oh – and the first Art Ross Trophy in franchise history. Only guy who thinks that ain’t a big deal I almost never see here – he writes from his couch for a paper I don’t read too much. And so it goes.
So what’s on the team then going forward? Know the deal. Can’t tell ya how many times I talk to players over the years who don’t know the deal about math and late-season scheduling and the importance of winning in October and November. And beating the right teams. Bigger now than ever. Especially you’re in a division with all 7 teams got at least 90 points. Third time that’s happened ever. Ever.
Pittsburgh plays .300 hockey or something down the stretch but they’re in and teams are lining up to play ‘em. Meanwhile – nobody wants Columbus or Dallas right now – but they ain’t gonna get ‘em anyway because of October and November.
Fun year though. Wow. I’m saying Wow a lot more these days. Old age maybe or maybe this team just has more things to say Wow about. Probably it’s the second thing. Great games. Really great. Lose some, win some, blow a few, rally in others, score. 6 months of crazy fun. I got my money’s worth anyway. Beats the daylights out of saying things like “he chips it out…” “he shoots it in…” “guys are battling for the puck along the wall…” every flippin’ night. And so on.
A year ago we all left the American Airlines Center crushed. Saturday we all left in a dandy mood. Just dandy. Smiling all the way home.
So did they. That’s way better.