The 2-0 win against the LA Kings may have been the most frustrating win of the season.
Despite everyone being happy about the two points in the standings, the players, coaches, an fans knew it was a game that the Dallas Stars did not deserve to win. Kari has essentially proven himself to be an elite goaltender at this point, one worthy of the extension he received, and rescued the Stars from what would have been an absolutely miserable night.
It is scary to think where this team might be without him in the net.
However, a win is a win, and the Stars are currently only a single point back of 8th place. If they perform well during this homestand, they could be closer to the top of the dogpile that is seeds 4-13. Ideally, they need to go at least 4-1-0 during this stretch to make that happen. If not, they will likely be in roughly the same spot that they are now.
The same thing was said about the previous homestand as well. The Stars had a chance to get a bit of a run going during those four games, but wound up falling short, putting together just 3 points in that span.
At this point, getting to the playoffs will be difficult. If you look a the standings as they are, the top eight teams are (or at least look like they are) playoff teams. The Blackhawks, Ducks, Wild, Kings, Canucks, Red Wings, Blues, and Sharks. These are the teams you expect to see in those positions. Certainly not the Columbus Blue Jackets, who currently sit in 9th. In order for Dallas to make it, they are going to have to displace one of those teams while they climb back into the race. It is no easy task.
By the numbers that Brandon Bibb listed for us at the halfway point this season, the Stars still need to finish 11-6-1 in order to advance to the post season. For a team barely managing .500 at this point, it is a bit of a tall task.
At the same time, though, the Stars have shown us how strong they can be. Scoring is spread fairly evenly across three lines, the defense has been holding its own (all things considered), and Kari has been Kari. The only problem is that there has yet to be any consistency to these bright spots. If they can find that consistency and put together a decent run, it is possible that they could sneak in as the 7th or 8th seed. If that's the case, should the Stars hang onto their assets in order to face the Blackhawks in the first round? After, anything can happen in the playoffs, and last year's LA Kings are proof of that.
Kari Lehtonen could carry this team through a playoff series or four. Jaromir Jagr still has a knack for scoring goals at just the right time. Ray Whitney is pretty good, too. He had 77 points last season, y'know. Those are players that can win...right now...against anyone.
It is an indisputable fact, and the LA Kings can testify to it. The LA Kings, who will be at the White House this week chatting with President Obama. The LA Kings, who have taken this basketball-crazy city by storm and made game nights at Staples Center an event. The LA Kings, who were just as frustrated and desperate as the Stars last season.
So why not the Stars?
And that is the iron pyrite some of you fear so badly. It is fool's gold, the fake prize. It is the quest for fortune that will never come true. And yet, it can in the NHL. Fluky things do happen, mediocre teams do win playoff series.
And wouldn't a playoff series be great for this team and this town and this fanbase? Wouldn't it be great experience for the young kids, and for Lehtonen, who has two post-season games under his belt in the NHL? Wouldn't it be worth the risk?
Many of you are saying no. Many of you are saying whatever this 14-13-3 team does in this upcoming five-game homestand should not affect the strategy to sell off parts that might be attractive to other teams. Many of you are saying the long-term success means building a team that outshoots the opposition 40-21, not grasping to the bosom of one that too often is on the other side of that shot clock.
The Stars have been burned on this idea before. The last couple of seasons, the Stars have put things together right before the trade deadline, only to collapse immediately afterwards. There are lots of questions to be answered between now and April 3rd. Questions that will decide the fate of the Stars not just for this season, but for the future as well.
Buckle up for the ride, grab a box of tissues for the emotions, and let's see what unfolds.
Coming up in today's links: Ray Whitney tells us to get off his lawn, more on tonight's game, and some great playoff hair.
- In case you missed it yesterday, the Stars assigned Jamie Oleksiak back to Texas. This should signal Aaron Rome's return tonight or shortly thereafter. [Dallas News]
- Mark Stepneski has his game preview for today, including the stats matchup between the teams. [Stars Inside Edge]
- Have you wondered how the Stars compare to the rest of the NHL in terms of how many rookies they are playing? Would it surprise you to learn they don't top the list of teams? [Stars Inside Edge]
- Ray Whitney gives an interview on the changes in the NHL from when he started compared to now. Phrases you will see: "At my age," "in my day," and "what in tarnation is all that racket?" Okay, not the last one. In reality, though, I hope the young Stars are really learning from a veteran like Whitney who has excelled for so long. [Mayors Manor]
- the CHL apparently has a new fad called "playoff hair." Scrolling through the pictures, I think I threw up a little. [Puck Daddy]
- The Stars did some word association with players on the Kings' roster. The winner of this post is Brenden Morrow's word for Dustin Brown. (Bonus Stars articles at the bottom of the page) [Mayors Manor]
- Since we love discussing trades, here's your source for all the fake trades. [Globe And Mail]
- You can count at least two new players who have jumped into the pro-visor argument. After watching their brother Marc Staal take a puck to the face, they have decided to wear begin wearing them. [ESPN]
- It wasn't a good night for the Stars in the Standings, as the Wings beat the Ducks, and the Jackets managed yet another win. [Puck Daddy]
- I keep trying to find the Arena Open for this season to post it for those of us who can't make a game yet. But I have been unsuccessful to locate it so far. So, instead, here's one of the Flashback Friday videos. Anyone remember when Hull scored back to back hat tricks?