I'm not always a fan of Mac Engel as a hockey writer, especially the little quick hits on his blog, but I think his effort Tuesday is well worth your time.
Engel captures the conflicting emotions of this season very well. It's both thrilling that a team with the restrictions on it during the summer months can be in contention this late, but it's also frustrating that they were seemingly comfortably in the playoffs and have slid back to the ninth.
It's enough to give a girl heartburn. But the story has some quality quotes from Stars president Jim Lites, including the one below that you can interpret for yourself.
This is my take on it - Lites knows exactly how big it would be to make the playoffs this year, but he also understands now that the front-office pieces are in place, the marketplace won't tolerate what Engel calls a "rhetoric of hope" any longer.
How this team with its pathetic little payroll and several seasons' worth of negligent ownership got this far on so little is actually impressive. This means come October the team can unfurl its "A For Effort" banner.
"It really would be beneficial psychologically if we made the playoffs," Lites said. "If we are going to miss the playoffs, this is the year to do it. We better not miss next year. We cannot not show upward movement."
- It must be "write a column about the Dallas Stars" day around the Metroplex, not that I mind. Rick Gosselin is also in on the act with his paywalled column about how this is a stage where Mike Ribeiro needs to shine. [DallasNews.com]
- Obvious tension leading up to this game is obvious. [ESPN Dallas]
- With a full set of defenseman healthy at least for the time being, the Stars re-assigned Jordie Benn to the AHL's Texas Stars. [DallasStars.com]
- It might not be the biggest game the Stars have played in the last several seasons (insert Minnesota Wild game that shall not be mentioned), but it's a pretty large one as Mike Heika explains in this paywalled story. [DallasNews.com]
- The Stars aren't the only team with epic games (please let that be games plural) this week. Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times gives you a primer on everything around the league to watch if you're looking for some heartburn-inducing hockey. [Los Angeles Times]
- I love love love these history posts from Backhand Shelf. This one focuses on the concept of team loyalty, how it's really not as old as we all think it is, and how Fred 'Cyclone' Taylor decided to change the entire way hockey was run. [Backhand Shelf]
- Also in must-win situations, though decidedly more dire than the Stars at this point - the Colorado Avalanche. [Denver Post]
- A Detroit Red Wings player getting off with a suspiciously light sentence for a leaping elbow to the head? Surely you jest. [Puck Daddy]
- Meet the enemy, part the first: The Stars have had a decidedly bad habit of being streak-breakers for many things, like the Vancouver Canucks power play. So it worries me quite a bit that the Sharks are having great difficulty scoring on the road. [CSN Bay Area]
- Meet the enemy, part the second: Also struggling - the Sharks on the road in general. I don't trust this trend. I don't trust it at all. [San Jose Mercury News]
- Around the Pacific Division: Nope, the Edmonton Oilers were predictably of no help on Monday with their 2-0 loss to the Los Angeles Kings. Now's the time when we swallow our pride and figure out which of the two evils we choose to root for in their home-and-home with the Sharks. Tonight's game will decide a lot about that. [Fox Sports West]
- Edmonton coach Tom Renney takes out weeks worth of frustration on the officials that worked the Oilers-Kings game. I did not see this contest, so I have no idea how good Tim Peel and Mike Leggo were or weren't (though they're considered regular playoff refs, so that tells you they're looked on highly by the league). But as we've recounted several times, there's been some shifts in how things are called that probably don't sit well with the Oilers in terms of lack of hooks and holds. [Puck Daddy]
- I know most hockey players have the rule of what happens in the room stays in the room. So should their girlfriends have the same ground rules about what happens at games? [Legion of Blog]
- Of all the players I expected to be on Ralph Strangis' awesome Unlaced series, Kari Lehtonen might have been at the bottom of the list. But here he is, though his hair is not at full victory hair height. Fair warning - cheeseburgers are mentioned.