8th place in the NHL's Western Conference playoff race was nice. For about 22 hours or so, it was very nice. Like the Stars, the Red Wings went into Nashville and never really gave the Predators a chance last night in pulling back ahead with 47 points.
So like the Red Wings did on Friday night against the Blackhawks on the road, exactly like they did as they challenge the Stars to keep pace - Dallas must go into Chicago and pull points out of the Madhouse on Madison in front of about 23,000.
Is that an unreasonable request? The Wings did it, after all.
These guys already just took five in a row after a trade deadline that saw many of their better players sold. They just got three straight wins from Richard Bachman, including a sensational effort against a superior San Jose team Saturday night. It's their first five-game streak of the season.
And now they get Chicago? On the road? League leading Chicago?
It doesn't seem fair.
The team, under new leadership and a new outlook on the game has done a LOT in the last 10 days. An awful lot.
The heartless playoff race doesn't care.
The Wings took care of the Preds with ease and now move on to... the Flames? So the work the Stars have done - The HARD work...the good, good work... it's not enough. They must do more. They must go on.
They must pull points out of Chicago now, because if they don't do that they'll have to pull points out of both nights of a back-to-back for the second straight weekend in a row, this time against the Canucks and the Blues (the 1st and 3rd place teams in the league last year. Not the conference. The entire league. So no pressure.)
These guys deserve an enormous amount of credit for their turn-around. They deserve a night off and a beer or four. Instead they have another must-win (or a must-get-points) in their lap against the cream of the proverbial crop. It really doesn't seem fair for a team that's done so much lately.
Where's the breathing room?
It disappeared under different circumstances in a time that seems far-removed on this particular date. But they did give it away.
Now they re-enter the arena of the relevant in a big way. The NBC Sports guys will be there asking these same questions. TSN will be there, too. They'll frame it as David and Goliath. They'll bring up the 8-1 drubbing last month at American Airlines Center.
The Stars will feel the pressure before this one.
How will they handle it? That's the question. Last through the first period and they make a game of it. Get blitzkrieged again and the season-ending alarms will sound.
Maybe it's what they need. It was adversity and being told what they simply cannot do that galvanized them, supposedly, in the first place 10 days ago. There will be plenty of that to go around tonight.
The Hawks are 6-0-0 on the second night of back-to-backs. It's a neat trick. Can the Stars ruin that run? It would be as excusable as anything we've seen in years to lose a game like this. Completely understandable.
But to win it would be something else entirely. Something inspiring to you. Something frightening to the Red Wings. It's up to the Stars to find a way to counter tonight.