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Dallas Stars Are First in the West But Still Fighting For Recognition

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DALLAS TX - DECEMBER 21:  Left wing Jamie Benn #14 of the Dallas Stars celebrates his short handed goal against the Montreal Canadiens at American Airlines Center on December 21 2010 in Dallas Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
DALLAS TX - DECEMBER 21: Left wing Jamie Benn #14 of the Dallas Stars celebrates his short handed goal against the Montreal Canadiens at American Airlines Center on December 21 2010 in Dallas Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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The Dallas Stars are, for the moment, in first place overall in the Western Conference.

Is anyone paying attention?

After an extended run of good play like this a fanbase starts to feel that its "for real." Once they get that feeling the next thing they do is run to the newspapers and television networks to see if they think their teams is receiving the proper amount of coverage and respect relative to what they've seen those other teams get.

I had intended to sit down at the computer this morning and write a "The national media is starting to take notice of the Stars" post, but I'm not so sure that's the case. Maybe this tweet from Pierre Lebrun last night sums up the way people feel about Dallas right now:

Pierre LeBrun
Dallas Stars rolling tonight again. When do we accept it's for real?

They're 13-3-3 in their last 19 games and people are just now starting to ponder whether or not it means anything.

Surveying the land (internet) on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning after the Stars earned their 44th and 45th points last night, I think it's going to take a while longer before the national media starts singing the Stars praises.

I know fans want to see the team get "their due" but it really doesn't matter. Their strong play is painting a big enough target on their backs without the media making it that much worse. Last night on The Ticket post game show Brandon Segal said they like being under the radar. It's fine with the players, so don't sweat it. The hockey world will be forced to take notice if they keep it up.

Besides, the concern of whether anyone cares about or respects Dallas in the national media should be secondary to whether or not people start to take notice here in DFW...

Continued after the jump.

The best thing about last night was that the Stars had a full barn and they sent everyone home happy. They put on a good show that included a short handed breakaway goal, goal by star players in Richards and Eriksson, a fight, a power play goal and an overall competence throughout 60 minutes that they've been missing.

In essence, they invited all (nearly) 18,000 people back with a 5-2 win. That's important. The players are all on the record: They like to playing to a full house, and the know the only way they're going to fill that place backup is to keep on winning.

Early reports are that the Red Wing game next week should be sold out and I expect that New Years Eve with the Canucks (a HUGE test, btw) will be sold out as well.

As for the teams coverage in the local media, I think Mike Heika had some good things to say about it earlier this week...

Obviously, we're not alone. The television and radio stations are not going out of their way to talk up the Stars either, and that's clearly a concern right now. Part of the problem is these things are never solved quickly. The Stars have lost their "buzz" in the community over the years, and that's evident in how difficult it is to fill American Airlines Center for games. So, the perception is that nobody cares, and then perception feeds the reality.

Our editors have to make decisions on which topics are most in demand, and the Stars appear to not be in demand right now (and we have website research that backs up that perception).[DMN]

People get mad at the Morning News or The Ticket or Channel 8 or ESPN Radio for not talking about the Stars. If those outlets covered the Stars like they do the Cowboys, people would change the channel. They'd turn their radios off. Most people do not care. Many of them are so damn stubborn that they never will. It's your cross to bear as a hockey fan in Texas.

Don't get mad at the newspaper or the radio stations. They're just trying to stay in business and their research tells them that people are more interested in the Cowboys backup linebacker situation than they are in Jamie Benn or James Neal. Oh well.

(This is why you have Defending Big D, btw.)

Continue enjoying this ride for however long it lasts. People will be forced to take notice eventually if it continues. Besides, first place is nice but it's still only six points away from ninth.