Funny thing about the NHL’s dog days. The team you hitch your hopes to every fall and winter can post a stretch of 7-3-0, yet still not make up much ground in a congested wild card race. Such is the case for the Dallas Stars. You wouldn’t know it if you follow Stars’ Twitter, but they’ve been playing some pretty solid hockey lately.
Yet their efforts are a bit fruitless if you’re talking about holding on to an actual playoff spot. Yes, this is mostly of their own doing, considering their up-and-down ways. For every peak, there’s been a corresponding valley with this bunch. When they’re on, they’re great. But it’s been an exercise in frustration watching this club stay out of their own way when they’re off.
Following the Dallas Stars can make scoreboard watching a season-long event.
As it stands right now, the Stars are three points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. They’re on about a 93-point pace. The team they’re chasing, the Anaheim Ducks, is actually on a bit of a slower point pace, believe it or not, but that’s partly due to the fact that the Stars have three games in hand.
That’s the good news if you’re holding out hope for some playoff hockey. As I’ve said before, the Stars can still write their own script as far as their postseason aspirations are concerned. There’s still a bunch of hockey left to be played, and if they can patch together more 7-3-0 streaks down the stretch, then there’s no reason to panic.
The bad news is the aforementioned inconsistency. You can find microcosms of their season even when things are going well. Take this most recent six-game homestand, for instance. They posted a 3-2-1 record and notched wins against quality teams like Nashville and Winnipeg. But they also threw in a stinker against Washington and a complete meltdown against Calgary where they gave up three goals in the final five-plus minutes to turn a 3-1 lead into a regulation loss.
And that doesn’t begin to address Sunday’s 4-0 setback against the Colorado Avalanche. Granted, the Avs are destroying everyone right now, so losing to them is no great sin. But the Stars did also find a way to get drubbed by the Montreal Canadiens back on January 18th, and those guys have been the epitome of awful all year.
Bottom line is, if the Stars miss the playoffs, it’s going to be the losses to the Canadiens and the collapses against the Flames of this world that will ultimately tell the story of the season. The silver lining–at least for now–is that they’ve got 36 games left to get their lives right and surge into a playoff spot.
It’s weird to say that a hockey team can be a millstone around one’s neck, but that’s the life of a Dallas Stars’ fan. Playoffs used to be a given around these parts. To be fair, the last couple of trips have been downright magical at times. But this franchise also has a way of making their fans sweat it out every year, and this go-round is more of the same.