Thank god the Dallas Stars only have one more game against the Eastern Conference in this stretch.
That's not something that's been said by many NHL teams this season, particularly those from the West. After all, the East doesn't have nearly the quality depth of the West, and there was a distinct one-sidedness to the record early in the year.
But during the recent five-game swing against Eastern teams, which will stretch to six on Sunday before the Stars finally see a western team again, there's been a lot of heartache on the Dallas end. No matter whether it's firewagon hockey game with 10 combined goals, a single-goal grind-fest or a close game that was only decided with two minutes left, the Stars seem to have lost their ability to find points.
The best news for the Stars at the moment is that this streak, like all runs of awesome or pathetic hockey, must come to an end at some point. And there were a few more positive signs at Madison Square Garden.
"I thought we skated better," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "I thought we created a little bit more and I thought we were better with the puck. We still have a ways to go, though."
When a team that is 7-2-1 in its last 10 needs a goal that was admittedly "probably 70 percent luck and 30 percent skill" with two minutes to make a difference, that is a good thing, right? Please tell me that's a good thing...
Ruff is seeing more positive signs, mentioning the "peer pressure" about making responsible decisions with the puck is picking up. [DallasStars.com]
I haven't had a chance to sit down and listen to this full interview with Jim Lites about the Stars 20th year in Dallas, but looking at the quotes, he's not short on opinions. Then again, when is he? I do hope he knows there have been almost no amateurs at the Olympics in any major sport since the first Dream Team. [KERANews.org]
Speaking of the Olympics, there's even more analysis out there today about the various Stars who will be showing up in Sochi. Heck, even Tyler Seguin and Sergei Gonchar still have realistic shots at heading to the tournament as an injury replacement. [DallasNews.com][From Russia With Glove][Thursday Morning Cupcheck]
Definite Olympian and all-around wunderkind Valeri Nichushkin gets a nice mention here in the NHL's answer to power rankings. [NHL.com]
The Dallas Stars might not be winning much at the moment, but their AHL affiliate is still racking up all of the awards. One of the latest is Curtis McKenzie, who was named the December Rookie of the Month. [NHL.com]
Now some comedy, or at least laughing so that you do not cry, because everyone needs that after the last five games. First, we have people who have made more money by being long-lived or right-guy-at-the-right-time in the NHL than I will ever see in my lifetime. [Backhand Shelf]
Hockey legend Mark Messier participated in an Ask Me Anything session on Reddit recently, and the fine folks at Puck Daddy have pulled out the best question/answer combinations for your perusal. [Puck Daddy]
Finally, don't look into Ben Scrivens' eyes. That only encourages him. [Grantland]