The Dallas Stars were hoping to control their own destiny at the conclusion of Friday night, or at least have an extra avenue or two to hope for on Saturday, but nearly every possibility evaporated in a four hour span, even while the Stars took care of business in Denver with a 3-2 win over the Avalanche.
We'd like to be talking about a win this morning. Wins need discussing the morning after. We like to bask in the glow and watch the highlights and read the sadness caused in whatever newspaper or blog happens to be covering the other side. Not this morning.
It's admirable that the Dallas Stars have won four games in a row and put themselves in this position after dropping EIGHT OF NINE down the stretch in March, mostly against teams they could have caught. They could have put their heads down after that stretch and said "It just ain't happening" but they didn't. They fought and fought and now the last day of the regular season counts for them. It all comes down to the final few hours of the regular season.
Is that enough?
Not a single bit of it happened, as is the custom these last few weeks. Call it bad luck, call it karmic payback for the February and March swoons. Call it whatever you like. The Dallas Stars are down to one last hope.
Either Detroit beats Chicago in regulation on Sunday afternoon on NBC, or the Stars are done. The 5:00pm CDT face-off in Minnesota is the final game of the NHL's season, and the Stars could already know their fate well before they leave the hotel on Sunday afternoon.
The efficacy of that solution will be the subject of all the debate in these final 36 hours or so. The Red Wings did not come to play to finish out their season in front of their own fans on Friday, why should (would) they on Sunday in a game that is less than meaningless to them? They might even rest their netminder and several other key members of the team.
One would hope that coach Babcock would want to see his team enter the playoffs on a positive note and take that game seriously, but recent events must be considered. The Wings have been mentally castrated by injuries, and it's all they and their fans can do to limp to the finish line in hopes of just not losing anyone else. It's made them soft. Will they be able to just flip the switch when the first round starts? Wouldn't a nice win in Chicago be a good way to start early? Please?