So remember how Jordie Benn busted after hitting on 12 at casino night? That was last night with two seconds left. You have to feel for the elder Benn, who played an absolutely fantastic game all night long. What a relief that the Stars managed to erase that bounce.
The Stars look like they will not make the playoffs this year, and that is a shame. The team was heading upwards, media all over the place were giving them praise for their acquisitions and organizational structure, and the playoffs were just a few measly games away back in October. Those games ended up being much worse than measly, as the Stars have discovered. Things kind of broke more than they bent this year, and it's getting a bit late for rebuilding the house entirely.
Things haven't gone according to plan, yes. And Trevor Daley's injury last night is yet another stark reminder that even the best laid plans can wither in the light of a long season. One bad decision by a Kulikov or a Martin, and all of a sudden your team looks a lot different than it did a moment prior.
I think the team still has plenty to play for, however; and I think we have plenty of reason to keep watching. That Patrik Nemeth dangle last night into the offensive zone? My grin was almost wider than my face, if that's possible. That Brett Ritchie goal? He looks like a kid who expects to score lots more. Those things are some of the memories I hope to keep with me after this season ends, and I'm going to keep enjoying these last few games, hoping for more of the same.
Tim Cowlishaw sees things a little differently, however:
Last spring their team battled the Ducks hard for six games before bowing out in their first playoff appearance since 2008. On Sunday, as a 12th-place team in a 14-team conference, they disappeared without a whimper.
The Stars managed one win in their last eight games before the deadline, leaving Nill no choice other than to look to the future. And I don't mean to sound like losing Cole was the end of the world. He was no more than an occasional scorer, a guy on a hot streak who was as frustrating as he was physical for two seasons in Dallas.
Cole was acquired from Montreal for Michael Ryder, an exchange of 35-goal scorers from the previous season. Cole barely reached that figure in his entire stay here, getting hot only in the last six weeks to elevate his value to a team hunting a Cup like the Red Wings.
For the Stars, this feels like more than just a lost season which the franchise can barely afford, anyway. They have a small but ardent following that was ready to view last spring’s emergence from hibernation as the start of something great here.
Five straight springs without playoffs had made hockey disappear for most of the local populace. But a lengthy postseason run always has a chance to bring the people back, especially on a team with great young talent up front. [DMN]
There's truth in that last sentence. Playoffs create rivalries and, more importantly, memories. I certainly still remember where I was for the series-clinching goals against both Anaheim and San Jose back in 2008, and those memories are still sweet.
Things aren't really bleak, though. The playoffs are always a crap shoot to some extent, and even more so when you're dealing with a young team like the Stars. Things happen, and by the way, they're in the best division in hockey. They had some tough breaks this year--Jordie Benn can attest to that--but the Colorado Avalanche somehow won the division last year, and they are here to let you know just how illusory success can be. Let's hope next season's Stars can prove just how similarly odd this year's shortcomings were.
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Best wishes to Trevor Daley after an ugly hit last night. Get well soon, Dales.
We'll keep you updated on Trevor Daley, but the "out weeks" comment from Ruff last night speaks for itself. [Stars]
Josh Bogorad offers his thoughts on where the Stars are and where they need to go in his latest On the Radar column. [Stars]
The Stars got a B from Puck Daddy's trade deadline grades, if you're into those kinds of things. [Puck Daddy]
Mike Heika chatted with ostensibly real Stars fans yesterday. [DMN]
Cody Mcleod and Gabriel Landeskog have been fined for being useless and overly exuberant, respectively. [ESPN]
Don't feel that sorry for Phil Kessel, says Justin Bourne. [The Score]
Of course, Kessel's frustration might have been related to the whole TSN Tweet incident that is now resulting in Dion Phaneuf, Joffrey Lupul and Elisha Cuthbert suing TSN, which is actually owned by the same majority stakeholder that owns MLSE. Grab some popcorn and watch the apology from TSN. [Puck Daddy]
Interesting stuff from the only sports anchor who could beat me up, John Buccigross. Which players will and will not play their entire career with one team? [ESPN]
More winners and losers at the trade deadline. Sean McIndoe has a typically engaging take. [Grantland]
Finally, sobering words from an unhappy Lindy Ruff, who has probably seen enough knee injuries to make anyone steamed:
Lindy Ruff on Matt Martin hit: "That's just a suspension..We've already lost our best forward, now we've lost probably our best defenseman."— Mike Heika (@MikeHeika) March 4, 2015