82 games are enough that there will be no mirages.
82 games will test depth.
82 games will test streaks.
82 games will reveal character.
82 games will make sure no flukes get an invitation to play game 83.
In my last blog entry about the team, we visited quite a bit about verb tense and the fact that no missions have been accomplished.
Perhaps, it is time to remind what 82 game marathon marches are all about.
Just when you think you can’t lose another game – and that sad times are all behind us – (Jan 1-20: 7-0-1) everything changes in Calgary and you start to lose.
Then the losses mount. Calgary, Vancouver, Vancouver, Boston, and now Philadelphia. 1-5 since January 20.
Will the Stars ever win again? Was the first 50 games just a mirage? Are we good enough? Are we strong enough? Doggone it, do people even like us?
And this is why we play the games. This is why we are obsessed with the teams we care about. It is the roller coaster ride of emotions. The depths of depression we encounter, and then the feeling of elation that all the sad times are over.
The Stars are a very solid hockey team. They have faults that do have me question their credentials when we start to compare them to some of their more sorted adversaries. But, more than anything, we are just seeing the normal market peaks and valleys that accompany any elongated stretch of time.
Most mornings, I wake up on my own around 7 am. But, I go through stretches where the body wakes up at 6:15 or even 6. Other times, there are periods of time where I end up sleeping past 7:30. But, on average, I wake up at 7. I use that pointless anecdote to demonstrate that if you charted my wake-up times on a graph, you would see peaks and valleys. But, in the end, you would agree that it all averages out to my body waking up around 7.
And so it goes with anything like this. Including our Dallas Stars. I wish I had a crystal ball to assure us all that the promising start to this season will end with smiles and handshakes. I am hoping hard that the final 29 games will find enough points and wins that playoff hockey will be all around us in the months of April and May.
But, this is no time to doubt. This is a normal market normalization. This happens. If you believe the Stars are really a 7-0-1 team, then this might be shocking the heck out of you. Personally, when the Stars don’t lose for 3 weeks straight, I gladly accept the results but fear what lies around the next corner.
We know the Stars have weaknesses. We know that they are still trying to stretch their defensemen as much as they can be stretched. They are asking their goalies, who have seen more rubber this season than a dead skunk on the Trans-Candian highway, to continue to mind the store with precision and excellence.
They are being challenged over and over when it comes to depth now in this stage of the season. Riding some very good health fortune for the first 45 games or so, now we are seeing it all build up at the same time. Losing 3 forwards in Boston was a bit much to handle, given that they were already down Jamie Benn and Tom Wandell.
But, so far this season, there have been no extended injuries to key parts. Brad Richards, Kari Lehtonen, Stephane Robidas, Steve Ott, Brenden Morrow, Loui Eriksson… Most everybody of their top 10 group have been presented and accounted for.
So these injuries right now – they will not get sympathy cards from around the league.
Injuries. Losing streaks. Doubt.
These are the friends you must take along for the ride when you embark on the 82 game journey.
Embrace it. I am not saying that Joe Nieuwendyk shouldn’t make one last move to help out the blueline. They look like they need the most help right now. But, understand that nobody told you that this was going to be without a struggle.
But, let’s all keep brave faces. Through this storm, everyone still looks up at you in the Pacific. Yes, they are closer, but you are still in front.
A home-stand is next. Phoenix, Chicago, and Columbus. Then back to see our Western Canadian friends.
The players on the team have been to enough rodeos to not freak-out over a “1 win in 6 games” stretch. They know that they must strike back very quickly, or their hot head start will disappear.
They know what they are up against. Let’s see how they respond to this challenge that is in front of them.
Email Bob at Sturm1310@aol.com and follow him on twitter at www.twitter.com/bobanddan
BOB STURM STARS BLOG ARCHIVE