Ok, here we go. Again.
Time to restart a season that has been interrupted by Olympic involvement and medal pursuits, and time to pursue the playoff spot that has eluded this Stars franchise since 2008 – yes, five straight years.
This time feels different than it did back in 2010, the last time the league shut down for the Olympic Games (and the other four non-playoff seasons for that matter). Unlike 2010, the 2014 Stars actually held a playoff spot as play resumed (they’ve since dropped a point back of Vancouver). The big question this time around is: can they fend off enough teams to hang on to it?
Back in 2010, the team went into the hiatus on a 6-2-1 run allowing just eight goals in the six wins. They had a record of 28-21-12. There was optimism. However, that optimism was obliterated almost immediately when the Stars left their defensive game on the beaches of Cabo allowing 17 goals in the first three games back and dropped six of their first seven contests. Their ‘win’ was that 49-save Marty Turco miracle against the Capitals.
This year they went on a 6-1-2 tear before heading to Sochi (and various beaches), and gave up just three goals in those six victories. Three!
So how do they come out of the ‘Break?' That’s what we get to see starting tonight versus the Carolina Hurricanes. I’m willing to venture a bet that they recommence in a form more conducive to winning than they did four years ago. Call it an educated hunch or ‘precision guesswork.’
The goaltending should be strong.
Special teams had been ascending prior to the break.
Lindy Ruff and his staff have a nice temperament and plenty of experience.
Seguin will be on a mini-mission.
Chaisson may benefit from a ‘restart’ after struggling to score for months.
Ray Whitney must feel rejuvenated and motivated by the ‘sprint’ schedule that remains.
Jordie Benn has grown a beard that would be the envy of any Stanley Cup champ, lumberjack, or hipster.
They have speed, and health (Robidas is inching closer to a return from his broken leg).
And, above all, they have proven over the first four months that they can score goals with the leagues top teams, and lately, defend as a team in the manner that playoff bound teams must.
Now if they can just get five of the group of Wild, Canucks, Kings, Coyotes, Jets, and Preds to piss off and fail at a rate that sees them finish below the Stars in points. That’s the other part of this pursuit.
The proof of desire is pursuit.
Their fate rests in their own hands.
So let’s go get ya some!