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Stuck amid logjam of bubble teams, Stars focused on climbing out

Yes, things have been rough, but Dallas is still in a playoff spot and has control of its own destiny

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer

The Stars were walking along a sandy beach not so long ago, enjoying the sun and a 5-1-1 cocktail; pondering just how good life can be in the NHL when you win a few games.

But then, just like that, their foot slipped into the edge of a swamp, and they found it difficult to keep from sliding in. There was a 2-1 loss at Philadelphia, and then a 3-1 loss to the Blues. As the team tried to scramble out of the muck, it was met with a 2-0 setback against the Lightning, and finally a 2-1 defeat at the hands of the Kings.

It was a scary series of events, and now Dallas sits firmly in the swamp that is the playoff bubble in the Western Conference. Heading into Friday's game, five teams were separated by two points. If the playoffs started today, the Stars would be one of two teams to make the postseason. However, if they slip back further, then the horrifying thought of another missed playoff would loom.

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After another loss, what will it take to get Stars back in gear?

Dallas players have received pretty much every form of motivation this season, and now have to find a way to respond

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer

There's a great scene in the movie "Little Big League" where 12-year-old manager Billy Heywood reminds the Minnesota Twins exactly who they are.

"Maybe the problem is you guys forgot how much fun this is," Heywood said in a pivotal scene of the 1994 film where he inherits the baseball team from his grandpa and then names himself manager. "You're major leaguers. I mean, you're on baseball cards. What could be better? Don't you understand? You guys get to play baseball every day. You get to go to Yankee Stadium and play in the same outfield as Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle. You get to go to Fenway Park, step into the same batter's box as Ted Williams."

It's a great moment of realization for the Twins, who regain their path and become a winning team again.

If only the Stars could have that kind of moment this season. If only they had a reminder of just how lucky they are.

Oh wait, they did … just Wednesday.

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'We will remember this forever': Stars make McDuffie's wish come true

The Make-A-Wish game for the 10-year-old brings together the Stars' hockey community and provides lasting inspiration

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer

In a lot of ways, it was the most exciting hockey game of the year.

Fans jammed into the practice rink at StarCenter Frisco and pressed up against the glass. Stars players wore game sweaters and smiles. And Anderson McDuffie and his team of buddies had full uniforms and looks of determination.

It was a wish come true.

McDuffie is 10. He has already had two open heart surgeries and he has become a huge fan of hockey, despite his challenges. So when he was asked what he would like if he could have any wish, he said he wanted his friends to play a game against his favorite team, the Dallas Stars.

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To become a high-speed team, Stars must play like one

Dallas needs to be aggressive offensively and push the pace - they only partially did that in a loss to Tampa Bay

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer

The Stars are not a great passing team.

Heck, they might not even be a good passing team.

If you're looking for evidence, check out the 32 giveaways from Saturday night and the 23 from Tuesday. Both games ended in losses. Both games ended with almost no goal scoring.

So it's easy to get down on this team right now.

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Rinky Dinking Podcast: Why did the Stars trade Devin Shore?

Razor and Heika discuss Dallas' acquisition of Cogliano from Anaheim, team culture and more

by Daryl Reaugh and Mike Heika / Rinky Dinking Podcast

Daryl 'Razor' Reaugh and Mike Heika break down the Stars' trade that sent Devin Shore to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for veteran Andrew Cogliano. Plus, the guys discuss Jim Montgomery's comments following a home loss to the Blues, how the team can work out of its midseason inconsistencies and more.

'Rinky Dinking' is available now for download on iTunes, Spotify and DallasStars.com.

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5 things you might not know about Andrew Cogliano

From a love for dogs to an incredible iron man streak, Mike Heika gives you a look at the new Stars forward

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer
1. He has not missed a game due to an injury

Andrew Cogliano was on the fourth longest ironman streak in NHL history last season when it was stopped at 830 games.

Cogliano was suspended two games for a hit on Kings forward Adrian Kempe that drew an interference penalty in the game. While many pushed for a fine instead of a suspension, knowing about the ironman streak, the NHL said of the hit: "In addition to the lateness of the hit, what elevates this check to merit supplemental discipline is the substantial head contact and the significant force."

Cogliano was emotional at having the streak end, saying "It's a tough pill to swallow."

Cogliano has played 912 of 914 possible games in his NHL career and has not missed a game due to injury. The NHL's all-time ironman streak is 964 games, set by Doug Jarvis, who went on to serve several seasons as an assistant coach with the Stars.

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Adding Cogliano may be one step in Stars' push for playoff run

Parting ways with Shore for the durable veteran sends a message that Dallas needs to get better right now

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer

The Stars have been through a lot the past month, so when GM Jim Nill acquired veteran Andrew Cogliano from the Anaheim Ducks Monday for Devin Shore, the timing seemed more than just coincidental.

"Nothing is coincidental," center Jason Spezza said. "Obviously, they felt that we needed a change, so they bring in a veteran guy."

Cogliano is 31. Shore is 24. Cogliano has 64 playoff games under his belt. Shore has none. Both offer great dynamics, and the Stars are giving up a lot in Shore. But the message of the trade is clear: 

This team needs to get better right now.

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How do Stars find right balance between positive, negative motivation?

As Dallas continues to face challenges with mental preparation, it's fair to wonder which solutions work best

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer

On every NHL team, there is a litany of folks who make sure the equipment is perfectly prepared, up-to-date, and ready.

Likewise, there is a group of people who take care of injuries and make sure every athlete is in peak physical form with exercise routines, and diets, and supplements.

Yet, the emotional state of players and coaches … well, that's a little more nebulous.

Each player is left to figure out what works best. Each coach is expected to find mental "buttons" and push the right ones. That can be challenging with 30-some players passing through the roster during any given season.

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Stars struggling to find proper motivation, execution

Montgomery called Dallas' lack of consistency 'frustrating' after a gut-punch loss to the Blues - its third in four games

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer

There is a difference between patience and passivity.

There is difference between calm and careless.

There is difference between prepared and presumptuous.

And right now, the Stars can't seem to find it.

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Can Stars make hay during long homestand? There's no better time than now

The six-game stay in Dallas is the definition of opportunity, stretching over three weeks with plenty of rest in between

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer

PHILADELPHIA -- For all of the problems the Stars are having this season -- and there are many -- they still sit solidly in a playoff spot right now and are about to play six straight games at home with plenty of rest in between.

It is the very definition of an opportunity for this team.

"Yeah, big," Stars forward Devin Shore said of the stretch.

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