Dallas Stars have finally achieved a bit of consistency

If you’ve been following the Dallas Stars this season, then you know they’ve treated everyone to a series of peaks and valleys. For every step forward, there had been a corresponding step backward. It’s made for a frustrating campaign that has kept them on the periphery of the playoff picture.

For a franchise that underachieves more often than not, their performance made a lot of people question whether or not they had the mettle to compete for a playoff spot. They are, after all, one of the older teams in the NHL. Sure, there is a core of youngsters that is set to lead them into the future, but there had been a certain lack of cohesion that seemed to plague them at every turn.

The Dallas Stars have managed to right their ship for the time being.

Moreover, while being a very solid team on home ice, they were downright horrible on the road. Their play simply suggested that they might be destined for another dreaded turn as an also-ran when it came to the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Well, on the strength of a recent 11-4-1 run–highlighted by a 6-1-1 road record–the Stars woke up today as the eighth seed in the Western Conference. This also means they are currently the second and final wild card team in the playoff picture. No small feat for a team that has made a living this year on the outside looking in.

Of course, nothing is settled yet. The volatile nature of the bottom of the playoff standings means the Stars could be in one day and out the next. This is the bed they’ve made for themselves, and they have to accept that the last thirty games of the season will provide no margin for error. In other words, a bad week would likely seal their fate.

But for the moment–and against our better judgment–let’s give credit where it’s due. This is going to be very difficult for the anti-Rick Bowness faction. The beleaguered bench boss is a lightning rod for some of the fans. The team either wins in spite of him or loses because of him. It’s a tough existence to lead, but such is life as a supporter.

At their best, the Stars play a tight checking game that generates offense from their defense. They’ve been much better lately, largely because their young goaltender, Jake Oettinger, has been rounding into form as a legitimate number one netminder. His rapid development has been a joy to watch, and he’s been the driving force behind the Stars’ recent run of good play.

But for a team that wants to use defense as a calling card, it’s hard to sell when they’re middle of the pack (15th) in goals against. Further, they’re only 23rd in goals scored. Realistically speaking, they’re pretty lucky to be where they’re at, in terms of fighting for a spot in the tournament. But if you’re a long time follower of this team, then you know this is how they operate. Nothing comes easy.

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With all this said, this team is stocked with players who have performed well in the playoffs. Their overtime record has been phenomenal this season, which is diametrically opposed to the disaster it was last year. This suggests a team that is very comfortable playing beyond sixty minutes. So if they manage to push through and make it, no one will want to play them once we start going best-of-seven, mark my words.