The Dallas Stars' season is over, and the results are naturally illustrative of their campaign.
They're not a bad hockey team, and they're not a particularly good one either. They're .500 at 22-22-4. They're 11-11-2 at home. They're 11-11-2 on the road. .500 hockey, and it's not good enough.
The Detroit Red Wings will qualify for the playoffs after defeating the Stars 3-0 at American Airlines Center tonight on a deflection off Alex Goligoski, a shot-handed bid by Henrik Zetterberg that iced it, and a wrister from Jonathan Ericsson that made it all just academic.
Dallas had dreams of competing with and catching the Red Wings in the seasons final two weeks as Detroit floundered down the stretch, but the quality of the two was on display tonight for all to see. The Stars have a lot of heart and a lot of desire, but the execution was found lacking.
It's fun to imagine what it would have been like tonight if the Stars had held that lead against the Sharks earlier in the week. Would that have propelled them to a better Thursday effort? Would the Predators 1-0 lead that stood for quite a while over Columbus been the scoreboard many times here tonight? Would the Stars have been inspired to compete at a higher level? Would Kari Lehtonen have given them a chance? It was high, high drama that never had a chance to get going - And the Wings needed this one desperately.
Instead the drama took place off the ice as rumors of Joe Nieuwendyk's demise, first brought to light by TSN's Darren Dreger, circulated throughout the Twittersphere first and the arena second. Tom Gaglardi was rumored to be here. Many declined to comment from both organizations in the building. The intrigue built throughout the first and second periods.
We'll have to wait until tomorrow, or possible Monday, to get the answers to those questions.
For tonight the only thing settled are the playoff matchups in the West. Detroit, for their trouble, earn a first-round date with the Anaheim Ducks. The Wild will tangle with the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blue Jackets will feel disappointed, but ultimately pride and perhaps a reason to spend some money in the off-season.
That will be the Eastern Conference's problem, however.
Did you see Richard Bachman's last game as a Star? Jordie Benn? Tom Wandell? Eric Nystrom, even? These are the details through which we'll start to comb Monday and into the week as the autopsy gets going.
Hockey continues, though - the best kind of hockey there is, as a matter of fact. The Stars won't be a part of it, true, but this fan will be locked in anyway. I hope you'll stick with us for all things Stars-related and otherwise as the community moves forward.