What a frustrating night for the Dallas Stars, losers in six to the West's top-seeded Anaheim Ducks.
What a frustrating night for a fan base.
This season was marvelous. It was. They made the playoffs. They took that next step. They showed they belonged and availed themselves quite well in front of two nations every other night for two weeks. They can play a little bit. And now everyone know.
Their arrow is pointing emphatically in the 'up' direction.
Tonight's not about that, though. Tonight it just hurts. So let it hurt, too.
They were up by two goals with three minutes to go. Two goals with three minutes to go. A festive atmosphere in the arena. A celebratory one? It was leaning that way. There was talking and joking and not much in the way of nerves. The Ducks had gone about six full minutes without a shot on net, and it appeared they were more interested in trading jabs with Stars players than attempting to get the job done tonight.
They would just do it Tuesday.
But a Nick Bonino shot was absolutely roofed past Kari Lehtonen- The sudden nature of it stunning the crowd, and we knew we were in for a severe ice cream headache. Then capitulation. Massive capitulation. With an empty net at the other end and nary a real chance to put the puck into it the Stars chased and chased.
The guy they didn't chase was Devante Smith-Pelly, however, who was sitting unmolested, and was rewarded, as Ducks so often have been this April, with a puck that just found him out of seemingly nowhere.
And after that, after you blow a two-goal lead like that you're devastated- You know what's going to happen next. We should. We've spent considerable time watching it happen to other teams through April and May these last six summers. At that point the momentum is just too great, and you're too stunned, and then it's just over.
I don't honestly remember what happened leading up to the Bonino game-winner- I think there was a turnover there somewhere, but it was a mad-scramble that included Patrik Nemeth, Jordie Benn, Chris Mueller and Valeri Nichushkin. Not exactly stalwarts of defensive play or calming presences.
And then it's just over. You remember the feeling. We've been through it time and time again before. A long, long time ago. It's so sudden and so shocking. So final. Nothing in sports compares to it.
So it hurts. Boy, does it hurt. Would they have won in Anaheim on Tuesday? History shows that road teams in game sevens are not exactly favored. I would have liked to have considered the fourth time a good possibility to "be the charm".
So we'll talk about the power play in the coming days. About Kari Lehtonen. About forward depth. About defense. About the power play. About the power play.
And lots of good stuff, too. The experience. The fanbase. Jamie freaking Benn. Alex Goligoski and Trevor Daley, too. I promise. Get ready for it, haters.
Young mistakes, Lindy Ruff is explaining, calmly, as I write this anything but. Just young mistakes, and a lack of finish.
Lots of good fodder for the next few weeks and months. So be happy. But tonight it hurts, so let it hurt. Be mad. You should be mad. The Stars were much better than the Ducks for large stretches of this series.
We're proud of these guys, and we're thankful that the off-season is a little shorter this year.
Pour one out for the Stars tonight, but know how much was accomplished this season and know that the hope of improvement is no longer just a hope. Jim Nill, you're up to bat.