This is getting ridiculous.
I know that every year we have experts - media, coaches, players - talk about how the race for the playoffs is going to be "closer than ever". But, when you say it every year it loses a little of its power, no?
They weren't kidding this year.
I have never seen anything like this. And, no, I did not just write this last year or the year before.
2011 is the year that people will refer to for a long, long time.
The Stars are down to 10 games. This morning, as I write this, they actually control their own destiny. Win their remaining games and they are a playoff team. Of course, 10-0 is pure fantasy unless the Stars are about to find a gear we didn't think they had.
However, as I write this today, I also should point out that the Stars will take the ice Wednesday night out of the playoffs.
That's right. As well as they have played since the trade for Alex Goligoski (7-3-3), it still has not been good enough to set them up in a spot where they are in the Final 8 as it currently stands (and yes, the Stars have games in hand, but not enough to make you feel too comfortable).
It is enough to make you crazy.
At least now, it isn't 12 teams for 8 spots anymore. March has at least sorted out Columbus and Minnesota from the mix. That leaves 10 teams for 8.
Or, put another way, 2 good teams will not be going to this exclusive party.
Those 2 teams will have at least 90 points. They might even have 95 points.
And yet, it still won't be enough.
The Stars have one game left on this homestand. I don't feel the Stars have played poorly in any game during this 2 weeks of home cooking. And yet, they let a point get away against Calgary and Philadelphia in shootouts that hurt. And they had at least a point against the Kings that they lost with that goal that was scored with under :20 left in the game.
And as we are all realizing - with 1 point separating team #6 from team #10, a shootout loss will be all it takes to knock one good team out of the playoffs.
For instance, the Kings are 8-2 in Shootouts. The Stars are 5-6. The Kings are 5th with 88 points. The Stars are 9th with 85 points.
Shootouts are vital.
Heck, everything is vital.
After the final home game with the Ducks, it is off for the final grueling road trip of the year.
Saturday At Nashville (7th)
Tuesday At Phoenix (4th)
3/31 At San Jose (3rd)
4/2 At Los Angeles (5th)
4/3 At Anaheim (8th)
Survive these next 6 games and then the Stars will be in a great spot. They finish the season with 4 games against teams who will be packing for the offseason, while the other Pacific teams will be playing each-other (and hopefully not splitting 3 points).
If they do survive, will there be anything left? What a grueling run this has been.
Keep pushing. Those who can, keep marching.
10 games to go. Need every single one of them.
I leave you with lyrics from hockey expert Sheryl Crow:
No one said it would be easy
But no one said it'd be this hard
No one said it would be easy
No one thought we'd come this far.
Email Bob at Sturm1310@aol.com and follow him on twitter at http://twitter.com/SportsSturm
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