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The Stars aren't done just yet

by J. Douglas Foster / Dallas Stars

My closest friends will tell you that my entire existence can be summed in a Jason Lee quote from “Mallrats.”

“Hasn't it become abundantly clear during the tenure of our friendship that I don't know #$^%*@? Most of the time I’m just talking out of my (backside)."

Yep, me and Brodie have a lot in common. I spout off a lot, yet to be honest … well, there’s not a lot going on upstairs.

But I do have areas of expertise where I thrive, and will defend my opinions in these areas to the death. I hold a few truths to be self-evident:

Bob Dylan is a genius.

If you don’t like Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings, you can’t possibly call yourself a Texan. Don’t even try.

Robert DeNiro and Robert Duvall can both act their way out of a sealed 55-gallon drum.

The best ribs anywhere on the planet are served at the Country Tavern in Kilgore.

Shiner Bock and Dr Pepper are Texas’ gifts to the world, separately packaged examples of liquid heaven.

And last, but not least – the Dallas Stars aren’t done just yet.

What is that you say? The Stars aren’t done yet?

Nope, not yet. And while I’m anything but Mr. Sunshine and Roses on most occasions, I’m going to tell you why you can still believe (to steal the Stars’ postseason campaign slogan) even while facing a 2-0 deficit against the best hockey team in the world.

Sure, it’s different from the first two rounds. When you take the first two games on the road, you come home playing with house money. Loose is the word, no pressure sits on the shoulders at all because you know all you have to do is split your two home games and you still have a firm grasp on home-ice advantage.

And if you split on the road, you’ve stolen home-ice advantage away. That, also, is a good thing.

But again, being down 2-0 coming home isn’t the worst thing in the world,

The worst thing in the world would have been being down 2-0, and having played in Game 2 like you did in Game 1.

While no team wants to be down 2-0, you can’t help but notice how much better Dallas played Saturday, as compared to Thursday night. They proved a few things to themselves, to the Red Wings, and hopefully to the hockey world in Game 2.

For starters, they can hold the high-powered Red Wings to just two goals in a game. In fact, Stars goaltender Marty Turco might contend they can hold Detroit even lower than that.

For the record, he made 32 saves on 34 Detroit shots, more than a valiant effort. But goals to Darren Helm and Henrik Zetterberg made the difference for the Wings, and it’s the last one – the winning goal – that Marty lamented postgame.

“I’d like to have them all back, but that's one that kind of, could have been a difference-maker,” Turco said. “I was a split second late.”

Now, the reasons to believe the Stars could hold Detroit to two – or fewer – back in Dallas should be linked directly to Turco’s play this posteason. He’s allowed four goals in a game just three times this playoff year, and has proved himself to be a big-game goaltender. My money would be on him playing his best hockey of the series back home this week.

Reason two the Stars can get back in this thing? By winning the first two, the Wings basically just held serve. Now, you can easily get back in this series by winning on your turf, in front of your fans. And I’m a firm believer that the previously perceived American Airlines Center playoff jinx is officially dead.

After struggling for some time at home, the Stars are 4-2 this postseason, and have clinched two series in front of the home fans. They’ve created a positive playoff vibe in Dallas again, and that should make a difference.

“For us, there’s no doubt we can win some games at home,” Turco said. “We had our chances. Tonight it certainly is disappointing to go down 0-2, but we'll have a chance when we go home. It will be a totally different atmosphere.”

The third and final reason to believe the Stars are not yet dead has to do with the sway of play in the first two games.

Detroit was clearly the better team in Game 1, and came out with some jump in Game 2 to take a first-period lead. But from then on, the Stars played heads up with the Wings, with neither side giving an inch. For the final 40 minutes of Game 2, it was a stalemate.

And maybe most importantly – after giving up four goals on Detroit’s first eight power play chances of the series, the Stars managed to kill off the last five man advantages offered the Red Wings. Somewhat under siege early on, the Stars have found their penalty killing bearings, and hope to not give Detroit any easy ones on the power play again.

With all these positives, for the Stars to actually get back in this series and win Games 3 and 4 at home, there is an area where they have to improve.

Goals must be scored, more frequently.

One goal on 21 shots in Game 1. One goal on 18 shots in Game 2. The 39 combined shots are just five more than the Red Wings had in Game 2. No matter how much better they played, one goal a game isn’t going to beat the Detroit Red Wings, and I think the Stars are well aware of that.

So they’ve got to score, and hopefully score early (Detroit has outscored its playoff opponents 17-6 in the first period), and then see just how much the Red Wings like playing without a lead.

If they can do that … well we might see this series go into the “if necessary” list of games. I’m officially on the record as saying it will happen.
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