So here are your Dallas Stars. Winners of seven of their last eight. Eight of their last ten. Jumping over the Minnesota Wild tonight, and just five points back of a wild card spot in the NHL's Western Conference, with two games in hand on the eighth place Los Angeles Kings.
On December 4th they were 9-12-5. 2014 has been closed in considerable style, punctuated with a resounding victory over these Arizona Coyotes, 6-0.
The six goals tonight came from six different players- Jamie Benn, Colton Sceviour, Ales Hemsky, Cody Eakin, Ryan Garbutt, and Brett Ritchie.
The young forward's recalling was announced less than two hours prior to the puck dropping in Big D due to Shawn Horcoff's illness and an apparent injury to Travis Morin, and he made the most of it in the second period, doing what he's done at every level hitherto - score goals.
His first NHL goal on his first NHL shot. And technically, it was a game winner. That's what I would tell the ladies over a yellow water with bubbles in it later this evening (Wait, is he old enough to drink? Wikipedia says yes...).
It was a game winner because, offensive fireworks in the third period (four goals) aside, Kari Lehtonen gave his team that which he and his backups were unable earlier in the season - stability back there while the team found their game, and they needed some time.
This one feels like all smiles but it started in frustration as Dave Tippett's bunch forced the Stars into a Coyote game plan, rather than the reverse. The Stars had just three shots in the game's first twenty minutes. They doubled it early in the second when they found their game a bit. Kari Lehtonen gave them the time to do it, turning away 32 shots in all for his third shutout this season.
The power play scored. The penalty kill killed. All four lines scored. The rookie scored in his first game. The goaltender gets a shutout.
This one lines up pretty well on paper, and what a jovial party at the American Airlines Center to make up for some pretty horrid times there this fall. There's certainly some optimism in the air now.
It's an important two points that go to catching those ahead, and also fending off those clawing at them from behind in Arizona and Colorado. The West is full of threats, after all. Add the Wild to the list of teams trailing them now, and it just so happens they'll be here on Saturday for a massively important tilt to set the tone for 2015.
I'll waste no more words on 2014. If you're reading this, why? Go enjoy the evening, safely, mind you...and we'll see you in 2015, where the Stars are hopefully back on track, with a lot of work left to do, but hope rekindled.