Wow, that was fun. I've never been more excited after a game in which the Stars were eliminated from the Pacific Division race.
Hey, we all would have liked a win in regulation to keep the Stars' chances alive for another division crown, but the bottom line it is always good to win. And the Stars needed that one Friday night. Not for the points. Not for the satisfaction of keeping the Ducks from clinching on Dallas ice. But for the playoffs.
You think these games don't matter for the post-season? They do. They raise confidence in both the team and the fans. Why just this morning I had two separate conversations with media friends who might as well have been Chicken Little and Debbie Downer.
"The Stars blew it; they're done," said one. "They have no chance now," said the other.
They were referring to the Stars' last two games -- a loss against St. Louis and an OT loss at Columbus when the division was within reach.
Never mind that the two losses dropped Dallas to 10-2-2 in their last 14. A record like that over 14 games in the playoffs gets you halfway through the Western Conference Finals.
But in a sports world that focuses on "what have you done for me lately" and has a long memory when it comes to past playoff performances, statements like that are not surprising.
The bottom line is that Friday night's game was playoff-like. There was a lot of passion, effort, heart and 60+ minutes of intensity. The Stars deserved a better fate than what looked like a 1-0 loss and got the win. Efforts like this win you playoff games. And the Stars are looking to duplicate this effort in every playoff game, starting next week.
VAN, NASH OR MINNY
Speaking of next week, the picture is starting to get more clear:
- The Stars will finish in the 5 or 6 Seed and will play either Vancouver, Nashville or Minnesota.
- Dallas will finish 5th with a San Jose regulation loss to Vancouver Saturday and a Stars win over Chicago on Sunday (and will play Nashville).
- Dallas will finish 6th if San Jose gets at least one point vs. Vancouver or the Stars fail to win on Sunday. Stars will then face the winner of the Northwest Division.
- Minnesota can still catch Vancouver for the Northwest Division with a win over St. Louis and the Canucks do not get 2 points in their final two games (at SJ, at PHX).
- Dallas will start the playoffs on the road, either Wednesday or Thursday.
- The entire playoff schedule will be posted at DallasStars.com when released, probably late Sunday (those guys are pretty good about that stuff).
Happy Easter, Stars fans!