Last night was just about as demoralizing a regular season loss as I can remember as a Dallas Stars fan. It just seems at times like the team has thrown in the towel and raised the white flag on the season. I can only imagine how frustrating it is for the players on the team and when you're fighting to maintain some momentum, allowing three goals in the first 12 minutes of the game has to be a big punch in the gut.
The crazy thing is that the Stars are far from done. They are just one point out of the top eight and still have plenty of games to get things turned around to snag a playoff spot. Like I stated last night, I'm estimating the Stars need to go 10-5-0 over the last fifteen games to even have a chance at securing a spot in the post-season, which is doable. The question is can the Stars turn things around at all, because they are far from a five-games-over-.500 team right now.
Some of you have also asked what's the point of fighting for a playoff spot. At best, the Stars play Detroit, San Jose or Chicago and there is no sign that this team as assembled would even have a chance at beating any of these teams in a seven game series. I say to you: maintain hope. If the Stars somehow find themselves playing in the playoffs in a month chances are that we will see Brad Richards, Jere Lehtinen, Toby Petersen and even Brenden Morrow back on the ice. With those players returning, this team has as good a chance at beating anybody.
As a sports fan I am the eternal optimist. I will keep my hopes alive until there is a mathematical certainty that the season is officially over. I will always look to find the positives when things are at their most dire. While the Stars are just 2-7-1 over their past ten games, I can find you a number of things to feel good about: James Neal's emergence as a future NHL star, Loui Eriksson is one of the league's most accurate scorers, Mark Fistric is turning into the Stars most dominant and physical defenseman. Things aren't great right now, yet there are some things to look forward as this team moves forward into the future.
And never forget that things are far from over. The fat lady has yet to sing, although she is in the wings starting to warm up. But the Dallas Stars still have more than a good chance at making it into the playoffs and once there anything is possible.
Follow the jump for a look at some Dallas Stars news and notes
Mike Heika takes a look at the Dallas Stars players who are scheduled to become UFA's on July 1st.
Sergei Zubov _ $5.35 million _ UFA
Jere Lehtinen _ $4 million _ UFA
Brendan Morrison _ $2.75 million _ UFA
Darryl Sydor _ $2.5 million _ UFA
Steve Begin _ $1.05 million _ UFA
Joel Lundqvist _ $725,000 _ UFA
Landon Wilson _ $550,000 _ UFA
Mark Parrish _ $500,000 _ UFA
Mark Fistric _ $788.889 _ RFA
Chris Conner _ $500,000 _ RFA
Tobias Stephan _ $485,000 _ RFA
Wow. Who would you bring back?
Mark Parrish was stunned after the big hit by Jat McKee, but the Stars say he will be fine. I've looked at the hit several times and I didn't see anything wrong with it. It was a good lesson on how not to lead your teammate into a big hit with a bad pass. McKee says hits like that don't come around too often:
It was kind of a slow pass. We had all of our guys down low, so I had the ability to step up. If he tipped that by me and kept going, my 'D' partner was back so it was kind of a perfect setup for a hit like that. They don't come too often, so it was nice to create some energy that way. When you see a guy down after a hit like that, you're thinking about that guy. I have a lot of respect for Mark Parrish, and I hope he's OK.
Parrish may sit out tomorrow's game for precautionary measures.
On the day after the NHL G.M.'s decided to start cracking down on fighting and instigating, ESPN's Scott Burnside uses last night's hit by McKee and the subsequent fight with Brian Sutherby as a great example of how this rule should work.
While you can understand the genesis of Sutherby's decision -- his teammate lying prone on the ice -- the fact his team had to play short-handed for his actions will perhaps serve as a cautionary tale down the road when something similar happens. As long as the NHL has the will to change the culture of how these penalties are called -- and history shows the league can effect change when that will exists -- then at some point players will stop chasing down an opposing player every time there's a bodycheck.
Marty Turco took the blame for the horrible start last night in St. Louis.
It is so much more disappointing when you lose because you know you are losing ground. Unfortunately, it's probably easier to fall out of the pack than gain ground, so we have to get back to getting points. It wasn't my night. Things aren’t always going to go your way and when you’re not feeling your best, you just rely on your game and trust it. You’re not always going to feel 100 percent with your movements, your reactions or your body, but you battle through it. We just did not get the result we wanted. The guys battled hard to come back but it was too far to reach. That first one, just being off a little bit on a bad-angle shot, whether it was a good shot or not, you always like to have those ones and that kind of set the tone for the rest of the game
Mike Heika questions the Stars' chances for the rest of the season.
Richard Durrett asks if maybe the Stars should give Tobias Stephan more time in net.
There weren't many players out on the ice for today's practice.
Ray Sawada is out 2-3 weeks with an upper-body injury.