Dallas Stars Proving They Belong in West's Historically Tough Playoff Race

Thearon W. Henderson

A frustrating loss to the Blues at home, yes, but another point and another toe-to-toe performance against the West's best.

I didn't see the Dallas Stars' 3-2 overtime loss to the St. Louis Blues, I admit. I had my own stick and puck battle to fight last night.

Ordinarily I would watch it first before commenting on it here, and surely I will later tonight, but after poking about here and there this morning I see a different tack may be in order.

Lindy Ruff didn't sound too pleased. "We had our opportunity in overtime," the coach said, "and didn't get it done. We had a couple shots miss the net on both opportunities and gave them an opportunity and it was a perfect shot."

It's clear from the highlights that the officials were the source of some, err, consternation, let's say. It's clear from the title of our own links post this morning ("Stars Can't Cash in on Opportunities") that there was frustration from the fan-base and a feeling of a missed chance.

But there's also a group of people, like me, who checked their phones and said "A point out of the Blues? A two-goal comeback? Nice."

And maybe a little perspective, or a different one, isn't such a bad thing as the mid-point approaches Saturday against the Red Wings.

We keep waiting for the Stars to "prove they belong."

"Play like the playoff teams."

"Find some consistency."

Really, they already have. Beating the Kings. Pulling points out of San Jose- Fighting back from a 2-0 deficit against the best team in the league last night and their gaudy .750 points percentage.

It's not just moral victories and anecdotal evidence at which you can point, either. Jim Nill says he likes to throw out their first ten games and focus on what's happened since. They didn't have their net-minder for much of that stretch. They didn't know what they were yet. It was too new.

Really, you can throw out just the first eight and focus on what's happened since.

16-7-7 has happened since. Points in 23 out of 30, good for a .650 clip- A clip, that in any other year, gets them right where they want to be, and probably still will if they can find a way to maintain it. Throw that 3-5-0 start in the toilet (it still counts, unfortunately) and the Stars have really been right in the thick of things.

They've leap-frogged the floundering Wild and within arms reach of Phoenix, just three points back. The Stars are keeping pace because when they lose they're losing beyond regulation. Like the Avalanche, 4-5-4 in their last 13 games. Like the Coyotes, 1-0-4 in their last five.

All without Stephane Robidas and Trevor Daley, by the way.

In three of the last four seasons only four teams have finished the season with points percentages equal to or greater than .650. In the other season (2010-2011) only one team finished equal or better to it.

This season there are NINE teams with better than .650 points percentages and we're very close to a half-season of sample size already. Seven of those nine, as you can guess, are in the West.

So it's easy to get mad when you look at the standings. I do it all the time.

"Same old Stars, in 10th place, etc."

Not really.

It's easy to get mad if you saw the game last night, if Twitter and whatnot were any indication. They badly out-possessed the Blues for stretches and didn't cash in on their opportunities, that's clear.

Maybe not seeing the game last night helps "see the forest for the trees" this morning. They kicked a dog when they got one (Nashville), they pulled points from a grim and formidable foe in St. Louis. Sounds alright to me. Just keep on trucking.

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