It's a painful time to be a fan of the Dallas Stars. There's no doubt about that.
In the last five days we've seen their chances of returning to the playoffs take what will likely be an irrevocable downturn when it's all said and done, and the reaction to it has been as diverse as it has been passionate. The conversation amongst Stars fans in some circles, including this one, turned sharply yesterday to autopsy mode. Some people are talking draft. Some people are talking defense. Some people are talking ownership.
Some of us are still talking playoffs. Yes, even now.
The truth is that the season is in no mans land on this Monday morning in terms of where the conversation should go. The stats and the math and the models say they're done. The fact that they've dropped six of their last eight games says they're heading in the wrong direction. Then again they could also still win out and have a shot at the 5 seed. So where do we steer the dialogue?
SB Nation hockey blogs are great hockey culture bellwethers for their teams fanbases. You go to these blogs to take their temperature. We went to Hockey Wilderness when we thought the Wild were done to see if they agreed. We visit Fear the Fin every spring because everyone loves train wrecks, etc. So in which direction should DBD lean on a morning such as this?
Those looking for conciliatory comments and a white flag won't find it here this morning. Not until the Stars lose three more games in regulation. Call us (really) crazy but there is, as we say, still time. We're soldiering on.
A new avenue to the post-season opened up over the weekend that requires at least a glance, so follow the jump, because we haven't come this far to give up now. Not yet...
Continued after the jump...
The narrative of the last several weeks has been that the Anaheim Ducks must be caught, the Predators are within reach and the Flames must be hurdled. The Flames have all but hurdled themselves, the loss on Saturday put the kibosh on the Nashville idea and the Ducks appear to be on a magic carpet ride of some kind but could still be vulnerable due to a difficult schedule coming up.
Then there is the curious case of the Chicago Blackhawks.
Leading the Stars by two points, they hold a firm grasp on the only tie breaker that matters - the famous ROW (regulation+overtime wins) and that makes the mountain appear a little steep, but there's enough here to make it interesting.
The Hawks are going to be without Patrick Sharp for at least another week (probably 4 of their remaining 8 games). They have a road heavy schedule and have two back to back sets, the first of which starts tomorrow in Detroit and then finishes in Boston. If there is a shred of luck to be had anywhere in the universe Chicago could have problems with that duo and their season could be thrown into nearly as much doubt as the Stars is now. Including the game tonight Chicago faces Detroit three times down the stretch and also plays Montreal (who should be desperate) and Tampa Bay.
To temper the insanity of this idea, the Hawks also play the Blues and Blue Jackets, they're the defending Stanley Cup Champions, and they have Jonathan Toews. The Red Wings also figure heavily into this plan and they're about as injured as any team in hockey right now and are sputtering a bit. The Hawks have taken two of three from the Wings this year. No one said it was a perfect plan, we just need some ideas.
The Ducks, meanwhile, only need seven points in their last seven games to be rid of the Stars and .500 hockey would be a regression for them based on their stellar play as of late. They'll finish their season against the Sharks, Stars, Sharks, Kings and Kings. Those would be the Kopitar-less, Williams-less Kings.
So unless the Stars plan on rattling off the franchise's first ever eight game win streak, they'll need some help in the form(s) discussed above.
At any rate, it may sound insane but it's not over yet.