As much business as there is left for the Dallas Stars to take care of themselves, it's clear that the fan base collectively has one eye on the Avalanche tonight and one eye on the Red Wings and Blackhawks, so let's talk about that match-up a little bit, shall we?
When I told several people (who don't follow the sport as closely as some) that all the Stars need is for Detroit to beat the Hawks in regulation just once in these next two games, the response I got was pretty typical. "It's the Red Wings, that will happen, right? Easy."
Not so fast, buddy.
Yes, they're the Red Wings and yes, they have 102 points but the help the Stars need will prove extraordinarily difficult to acquire. Begin with the mindset of the Red Wings. Look at their fans (Wining it in Motown) who all seem to be worried about one thing: health. Just stay healthy, they say.
That's the talk coming from the local media as well. What's happening with Zetterberg? Is Kronwall coming back? Can Chris Osgood backup Howard in the playoffs?
No one seems to be talking about needing to finish strong or to generate momentum. There are more articles out there about Mike Modano's potential retirement than there are about why the Wings need to win either of these games or what they must focus on to do so, and there no player quotes to be had about any of it. The vibe out there is an unfriendly one to Stars fans.
Detroit dropped nine games in March (as many as Dallas did) and most recently lost to Carolina 3-0, a team that is fighting for their playoff lives. You know, like Chicago will be tonight and Sunday. The Wings have suffered from various injuries, some minor, some not so minor, and they've all come staggered at different times, preventing the team from establish consistency and chemistry down the stretch. That sounds a lot like the Stars, who are still trying to get their collective head on straight after a slew of February and March injuries.
Having clinched the Central already, the Wings only motivation tonight could be attaining the second seed, or possibly seeing Chicago out of the playoffs.
Chicago has won three straight meetings since Detroit took the season series opener and has outscored them 10-3 in that stretch.
So put on your Mike Modano jerseys tonight and hope for a revival of sorts, or else make a Corey Crawford voodoo doll and then stab it in the knee several thousand times with something sharp. If that doesn't work, pour some liquor on it. Your liver, I mean.