The sky is falling on Dallas Stars fandom these days, or so it seems.
Losing five of six games has been excruciating for a fan base that was picking up steam in January. Excruciating because it included several horribly lopsided results bordering on embarrassing. Excruciating because it included injuries to Jamie Benn, Tom Wandell, Adam Burish and Krys Barch.
Most of all it's been excruciating because it's taken 19 days, including this current three day break that feels a lot like stewing in a bath tub of our own filth. We hate extended breaks after losses. The All-Star break in there didn't help much either. It's been nearly three weeks since we felt that rush of a 7-0-1 start to January. As a group we're eager to get that back. We've had a taste of it and "we wants it", but before that we must be assured that the free fall has been halted. That's where tomorrow night and this home stand comes in.
The parade of division leaders (Vancouver, Boston, Philadelphia, Vancouver...) has ended for the moment and this trio of home games presents challenges that are perhaps not as daunting in Phoenix, Chicago and Columbus, meaning no disrespect to those clubs or their fans.
Easier said than done, of course, but the historical ebb and flow of an NHL season suggests to us that the suffering will end sooner rather than later. Look at several other teams just this calendar year:
- The Kings lost five of six games and ended a putrid eight game home stand 2-6 but have come back from the dead as winners of five of their last six games. They've got momentum now and could use their 10 game road trip to save their season and propel them up the standings.
- The Sharks had lost six games in a row in January but have now won seven of their last eight.
- Phoenix lost four of five but have ended it with two straight wins.
That these examples are all Pacific Division foes is horrifying and makes us all look over our collective shoulder even more than we had been, sure, but the point is that these things come to an end. Eventually. The only question is: How long will the Stars let it go before they pull themselves up out of the muck?
Two wins on this three game home stand should do it, right?
Continued after the jump...
, Wednesday 2/9:
The Stars have a secret weapon coming into this game that they've not had in a long, long time: Practice time. The travel back from Western Canada, the All-Star break and the injuries have made it nearly impossible for the Stars to conduct meaningful, productive practice for weeks. It may not seem like it but I'd wager it's been a factor.
The last time they had this much practice time Marc Crawford jokes "I hope I didn't mess them up with all this practice." Then they beat Atlanta 6-1 that night. Results aren't likely to be that good tomorrow night but you never know.
Phoenix had last four of five but have won two in a row now and sit just two points back. A win and they're tied with the Stars. Dallas has two games in hand but what good are two games in hand when you've lost 6 of 7?
The Stars need this one more than the other two or any other game this month. Bryzgalov, Dave Tippett and Phoenix's domination of Dallas in recent seasons be damned.
, Friday 2/11:
Media attention will focus on Marty Turco and "will he or won't he?" but it doesn't matter who is in net. The Hawks are floundering a bit, losers of four of their last five and if the Stars can stay disciplined and keep Toews and Kane off the PP then they could lengthen Chicago's misery a bit.
The Stars are 1-1 against the Hawks this year but it's their first meeting in Dallas. Chicago enters the game on the same rest as Dallas as they play in Edmonton on Wednesday night, where, unfortunately, they'll probably get back on track because that's just what the Oilers do. Troy Brouwer told the media after their loss last night in Calgary "The way we're sliding right now, we've got to find a way to get out of it and get out of it real quick or we're going to find ourselves in a real big hole." Sounds familiar.
If the Stars get a win on Wednesday I like them in this game.
, Sunday 2/13:
Columbus may be in 13th place today but they're 5-3-2 in their last 10 and they've won two in a row. They're six points out of a playoff spot and are fighting for their lives right now. Most everyone in the conference is (Hi, Edmonton!) This makes them a very dangerous bunch.
Still, you'd have to call this the most favorable of the three matchups though the two teams have already played two very tightly contested low scoring games in Ohio. Each has one win.
The irony of all of this is that if the Stars can't save their division lead or at least their month of February a little bit on this home stand, they have to face the same airports, locker rooms and hostile crowds that started them down this road coming up next. It's the Western Canadian road swing again, and it's in the exact same order as it was before. Edmonton. Calgary. Vancouver.
And no one wants to face that trip again looking for these same kinds of answers given what happened last time.
Take care of business at home and this malaise goes away.