The Dallas Stars know how important this five game homestand is. It's very possible that how they play now could effect not only this season, but future seasons as well.
Depending on how they fare, the Stars could sell off all of the assets that have been hitting the rumors lately, or they could choose to stay pat, and make a run for the playoffs instead.
While it's likely that some players will be shipped out based on contract extensions rather than play, there are others on the roster that might be traded as well if the Stars drop a few more games between now and the trade deadline.
The players hope to keep that from becoming a reality though. After all, nobody wants to miss the playoffs. Not the fans, players, coaches, or management. And while there is sense in selling assets to prepare for the future, a lot can be said about gaining valuable playoff experience -- even if it is a first round loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Stars know that if they want to stay in the race, they are going to have to dominate the remainder of their home games. Last night got that ball rolling in the right direction, starting with the very first shift.
"It's crunch time and we know what we've got to do," said Stars center Cody Eakin, who was one of five Dallas players to score Saturday. "It's a matter of finding our stride. There's no time to take off now. We've got momentum, we've got to take it and we're got to bear down for the games remaining."
The Stars, opening a key five-game homestand, came out strong Saturday night, scoring 34 seconds into the game and then again midway through the first. By the 24:37 mark of the game they had a 4-0 lead.
"I think we were focused, we were really mad about what happened last time (at Colorado Wednesday)," said Stars center Derek Roy, who scored the Stars' first goal and assisted on the second. "We were up a couple goals and ended up blowing the game with work ethic. We didn't work as hard as we could and that cost us the game. Tonight was our time to come out at home and establish a good forecheck, establish a good work ethic. We did that the first shift, moved forward and did it for pretty much 60 minutes."
"It's good to get that first goal and I thought it engaged our guys because I thought (Colorado) came out with a purpose in the first to be physical and hard on us," said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. "I thought that set them back somewhat. Then we get the power play goal, it stung them again."
While it was indeed a great start, it does not mean that the Stars are out of the woods just yet. They still have four more games at home, and likely need to go 3-1 to stay in the race. With the division leading Wild coming into town to play twice next week, that is no small task.
54 points is the ultimate goal to make the playoffs as well. The current projections are closer to 52, but you can expect that to ramp up as the season draws to a close. That means a 10-6-1 record to finish out the season -- a points percentage much higher than the one the Stars have strung together at this point.
The Stars have a chance over the next week to build some consistency and string a few wins together. With any luck, they'll be on the right side of the standings by April 3rd.
Coming up in today's links: More on the game from last night, the Lightning are in search of a new coach, an NHL grab bag, and everyone wants to board the train train Cheechoo train.
- Aaron Rome is nearly ready to come back, but he is still 50/50 for Monday. [Dallas News]
- Mike Heika has some thoughts from last night's game, reminding us that, while the win was a good one, it was against the worst team in the West. [Dallas News]
- Jersey Fouls. A couple of these are excellent. The others just need to be burned. [Puck Daddy]
- This NHL grab bag is one of the longer reads I link to, but it's always worth it. There's some great stuff in here. [Grantland]
- Here's 10 players to watch at the trade deadline. Roy isn't listed because it's just too easy. Seriously. [Grantland]
- Guy Boucher was fired from the Lightning yesterday/this morning. Is he the first in a chain reaction? [NHL]
- Here's the three stars from last night's games across the NHL. It was a decent night for Dallas, as the right teams lost to keep them in 8th place. [Puck Daddy]
- For your video of the day, Jonathan Cheechoo's biggest fan, Aaron Bell, creates a new video every time Cheechoo joins a new team. And it's epic. You can read more about him here, including all the past videos.