The loss last night really hurt. Plain and simple.
Despite the face that we all knew that it would take a miracle for this team to make the playoffs, many of us held out hope that it might actually happen. But, when your team loses three straight, and four out of the last five, it should come as no real surprise.
The fact of the matter is that the Stars were simply outplayed in all of those losses. (Some of the victories in that winning streak was no different.) They played hard, they tried, but they cannot match the talent level against the likes of the Blackhawks, Blues, Kings, and Sharks.
Thanks to seeing the kids play, and seeing what is in store for the future, we know that they'll be able to one day. That time has just not arrived yet.
That doesn't lessen the pain of no playoffs though. Especially for the 5th straight year. Mike Heika has his observations from last night, and he sums it up best.
It seems there can be no easy end. Missing out on the playofs is always frustrating and emotional. When you potentially do it five seasons in a row, the scars add up. But you do hate the memories. You do hate being tricked into the belief zone, only to be let down.
In the end, it really is nobody's fault. The players try hard to win, they mount an impressive effort, and sometimes they fall short. It is what it is. This season was lost just as much in the 2-3-0 five-game homestand in March as it was in this 0-2-1 three-game road trip. When the punch comes can be semantics.
But you remember, you always remember.
Officially, the Stars still have a chance at this. They could beat Columbus in regulation Thursday, see some games fall just the right way, and have a chance to beat Detroit in regulation on Saturday with the playoffs on the line. The fates say all of that is possible, but do you reallly want to be sitting on your couch Saturday waiting for another punch, just knowing that it's coming?
Many of you say sure, that you can handle it. Heck, let's play this out until there's no playing left.
And maybe that's the best attitude.
We know what a long shot the playoffs are. We have known for weeks while we watched them go on an improbable run. We know it now, when they are all but eliminated. However, just because it is above where they should realistically be, it doesn't mean that they shouldn't aim for it. And it certainly doesn't mean that we shouldn't cheer for them.
I expect nothing less than their absolute best in the remaining two games. I will continue to cheer for the playoffs until they are completely eliminated. Because you just never know until all the games have been played.
There are two remaining scenarios: No matter what, the Stars must defeat the Blue Jackets in regulation, and then the Jackets must go on to lose in regulation against the Preds in their season finale. The Red Wings must drop 2 of the 4 points they have remaining before they play the Stars. If that happens, the Stars must defeat the Red Wings in regulation to clinch. If, by some miracle, the Red Wings lost 3 of 4 points before playing the Stars, then Dallas would be able to defeat the Red Wings in overtime or a shootout (Stars would lead in ROW no matter what).
So there it is. That is all that remains. There are two game left, and, no matter where they land in the final standings, we can still believe in this team. We can still cheer them on. And that is exactly what I plan on doing.
Coming up in today's links: More notes on last night's loss, news from around the NHL, and guess who threw another dirty hit after not being suspended in his game against the Stars?
- Mark Stepneski has his post game review from last night, including quotes from coaches and players. [Stars Inside Edge]
- Alex Chiasson is aiming to return for the final two games. It would be good to see him back on the ice again. [Stars Inside Edge]
- Heika reminds us that at least four of the Stars players will be heading to the playoffs this year, when they return to Austin. [Dallas News]
- Adam Burish is happy four the Stars recent success, though I'm sure he's happier with his own team's right now. [Dallas News]
- The Allen Americans won game 7 on their series last night. They now move on to the Finals to play for the President's Cup. [Dallas News]
- Battle of Cali gave the Stars a send off in the way that only Battle of Cali can. It apparently stirred up a bit of controversy on twitter last night, so I thought it was worth mentioning. (Warning: If you do not appreciate satire, or do not have a sense of humor after last night's loss against the Sharks, do not click this link.) [Battle Of Cali]
- Here are the three stars from across the NHL last night, and a list of the 4 teams that clinched a playoff spot. [Puck Daddy]
- I'm not going to say "I told you so" to the NHL, but.... I told you so. We all did. When Dustin Brown did not even receive a fine or a phone call for his hit on Antoine Roussel, that apparently taught Brown that it's okay to do it again. Which he did in the very next game. This is what happens when you don't treat each dangerous play equally, regardless of how serious the injury was. You can see for yourself below.