It’s been quite a year for our Stars. When the season started, nobody had them pegged for a playoff spot. Midway through the year, nobody thought they could miss. Now with two weeks to go, nobody knows what to think.
I’ve been with this team for 21 years. I’ve been with all incarnations of Dallas Stars teams; some really good ones, some not-so-good ones, and all things in between. I’ve watched some overachieve and have seen some underachieve. There have been terrific triumphs and gut-wrenching defeats. That’s the game.
Like you I’ve read the recent columns from those at well-beyond arms length who now when things look their bleakest have decided to fire a few cannon shots at them. And while the Stars have been less than inspiring the last few weeks, I wouldn’t count this group out quite yet.
I like this group. A lot. And I haven’t been able to say that every season. But this group is different, and I want them to prove it to themselves. They’re not perfect. They’re not without their warts. They’re thin where you really can’t be thin, and they’ve messed up things at a time that you can’t really afford to mess them up. They’ve straddled both sides of a very fine line all season. They are a confounding team too; they don’t score a ton, the give up a little too much, their special teams are average at best. They start poorly too many nights and have trouble closing out games. They’ve had more head-scratching wins and losses than any group I can remember.
So why are they still in this (and in fact control their own destiny) with a mere 8 games left on the schedule? And why do I like them and think they can still pull it off? They’re beyond your mere garden-variety scrappy. To call them resilient is to grossly understate. And they’re at their best after they get punched in the mouth. And at a time when desperate is king, this is just the group to get it done. Remember?
It started on opening night, October 8th in New Jersey. Down 2-0 midway through the first period and 3-2 late in the third but they rallied with a Richards goal to tie it and an Eriksson goal in OT to win it. And that was just the beginning. The next night they choked on leads of 2-0 and later 4-2 and gave up 47 shots and two late goals and needed the shootout to beat the Islanders. Ribeiro was the only guy to score in the shootout and Kari made 3 saves.
On the current home stand they rallied to tie LA in the final minute only to see the Kings rip at least one point away seconds later. And then there was the collapse against the Ducks. Nothing’s been easy about this season. But then nothing has been predictable either – so I think I’ll reserve judgment on whether they’ll make the playoffs or not until they actually make the playoffs or not…
They’ll need some big performances from their big guys, and they’re gunna need a break or two for sure. And they’re going to have to find the right side of that line again. But they can do it. Because a 74 game sample says they can.
They’ve taken some important steps this season. They’ve moved on from the past and are building toward the future. And now have a chance to seize the present. If they can just again tap in to what it was that gave them this opportunity in the first place.
I mean seriously, how can anybody claim they know how this is going to end, and how can you not be glued to every second of what's left?