"There's not much time left, but there's a lot of time left," Tyler Seguin dichotomously told the Dallas Morning News Saturday night after... After...well...
After they loss to quite possibly the worst statistical possession team in the modern era dating back to 2007 in the Buffalo Sabres.
Mission accomplished this weekend would have been 'find any way necessary to beat hockey's lowest life-form, and then see what happens against the Rangers.' The Stars dropped the supposed easy one. Now they're desperate, or need to be, for the hard one. Los Angeles won last night. Minnesota won. Vancouver won. The Stars continue to slide, losers of five of their last seven now.
Dallas is averaging nearly eight shots more than their opponents over their last nine losses. That can't happen. More opportunities need to translate to more goals- But the save percentage of the opposition has been better, and the bounces few and far between.
30 games remain. The (.519) Stars need to play about .683 hockey to get to 95 points the rest of the way. So... That math is getting unspeakably ugly with each mounting loss.
While the Stars did bottom-of-the-barrel battle with Buffalo Saturday and emerged with nothing, the New York Rangers had a big boy contest with the Predators in Nashville, out-shooting the second best team in hockey, though they fell 3-2 to Pekka Rinne.
The Stars squeezed past the Rangers on December 29th thanks to some pretty fortunate goals and an appearance by the Kari Lehtonen of old, who stopped 28 of 30 in the 3-2 win. It was rare thing. Since losing 14 of their first 26 in a mediocre start to the season New York has gone an astounding 18-6-0 to put themselves in a pile of teams vying for second in the East.
This time around the Stars won't have to face Henrik Lundqvist.
He sustained a "vascular injury" when he was struck in the neck with a puck on January 31st, though he did start their next game before being removed for what could be an entire month.
He made comments on Twitter, via NHL.com:
"I can't be on the ice right now, it's disappointing. I'm focused on doing everything I can for a fast recovery with help from our great staff," he wrote. "It's all under control and I feel better and better but right now I need some rest to heal. Thanks again for your support."
Cam Talbot did enough in his first game of relief against Boston to give the Rangers a 3-2 win, though New York allowed just 20 shots against.
It helps also that the Rangers play a pretty clean game. They've been shorthanded once, twice, twice, and twice in their last four games, while averaging almost 33 shtos on goal over their last eight.
They're a very good hockey team. Buffalo was a very bad hockey team. Combined with a 19-hour turnaround and one of the most iconic venues in sports on a Sunday afternoon- The expectation here from Stars fans is probably not particularly rosy.
The Rangers will be without one of their third-liners:
#NYR Injury Update: Jesper Fast has a sprained knee and AV says team will know more on his condition in coming days— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) February 7, 2015
Their lineup, while he was still in it:
The Stars are 0-2-0 in the other two games that have started before 5:00pm CST this season.
From Stars PR:
The Dallas Stars take on the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Sunday in the second and final game of the season series between the two clubs. Dallas won the first game on Dec. 29, 2014 by a final score of 3-2. Eight different Dallas Stars registered a point in the contest, with goals coming from defenseman John Klingberg and forwards Ales Hemsky and Antoine Roussel. Goaltender Kari Lehtonen stopped 28-of-30 New York shots. It was the fifth consecutive game between the two clubs to be decided by one goal or the shootout.