The Dallas Stars somehow managed to force a Game Seven in their Western Conference semifinal matchup against the St. Louis Blues. But even if the season comes to an end Wednesday, this season should be looked at as a success rather than a major disappointment.
Last year, the Stars missed the playoffs for the sixth time in seven years. Now, they’re the top seed in the Western Conference. It’s a great reward for what Lindy Ruff and the Stars’ ownership group have been working to build.
The Dallas Stars have lost three-straight games for the first time this season. They still have an eight-point lead over Chicago for the top spot in the Central Division, but the losing streak has to stop soon if Dallas wants to have playoff and Stanley Cup hopes come May and June.
The Dallas Stars are no doubt the most surprising team of the season. But Dallas has yet to really earn the respect that they deserve. Yes, those that do weekly power rankings have them at or near the top, as they should, but the hockey-knowing fan outside of Dallas likely could care less about the Stars being so high up in the standings at this point in the season. This next stretch of games, however, could change that.
It might be early, but if you look at the Dallas Stars schedule, you’ll see an odd peculiarity — a .500 record for the month of December. Can this team sustain this level of success, or is there a steep drop off coming up?
Of the seven teams in the division, all but one team is packed tight within the standings. First through sixth are separated by just ten points and last-place Colorado sits on more points than five other teams in the league. And in a sport where there aren’t many breaks, there’s next to zero breathing room for any of the seven teams in the division.
But on top of all of that is pressure — pressure to finish in the top three spots of the division to guarantee a spot in the postseason and pressure to finish ahead of the other teams in the Pacific Division to maybe sneak in one of the two wild card sports.
Saturday night I made the trek through the rain up to the Cedar Park Center to watch the Stars — the Texas Stars. The game turned out the wrong way unfortunately. The Stars recovered from a 3-0 deficit only to give up the lead shortly after tying the game. But I think I’ve discovered quite the hidden gem in the world of sports: minor league hockey.
Entering this season, which began last week, there was more hope and optimism surrounding this team thanks to a couple of big moves to sure up all aspects of the team. But if Saturday night’s 6–3 loss showed anything, it’s that the Stars are going to have to be better on defense if they want this season to be closer to 2013-14 and not 2014-15.
Since the start of the their offseason in April, the Stars have acquired Patrick Sharp, Antti Niemi and Johnny Oduya, bolstering up a potent offense and strengthening a struggling defense. And there are the moves that could get the Stars back into the postseason and onto something great.
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