Being 11-13-6 on Dec. 13 is not what the Dallas Stars, or their fans, expected.
However, after injuries, poor play and ultimatums, it all comes down to eight games.
Beginning Tuesday against Anahiem, Dallas will have five straight at the American Airlines Center, and play seven of the next eight at the AAC. The lone road game is Dec. 27 in Phoenix.
Well, folks, this is the season.
Dallas can determine their own fate over the next eight games.
Play well and they’re back in the postseason hunt. Bad play, however, will have its obvious consequences.
And these next eight games will not be easy. Dallas will welcome in the New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, St. Louis Blues and Los Angeles Kings - a combined record of 68-39-10.
Dallas’ 28 points has them at 5th in the Central DivIsion, but two points shy of the final wildcard spot occupied by the aforementioned Kings.
Hope is not lost, though.
Lets take a look at the 2015-16 San Jose Sharks.
On Dec. 12, 2015, the Sharks were 14-14-2 and began the month 0-5-1. Beginning to sound familiar? Dallas is 2-5 In December.
The Sharks, though, turned a corner and finished the month 4-2-1 and put themselves back into playoff contention.
After Dec. 12 the Sharks went 28-14-6, captured a playoff spot and rode that momentum to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Aiding in their turnaround was the play of their big guys - Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski and Brent Burns. The trio combined to score 107 points from January to March.
Now, with that said, Dallas has the talent and offensive capability to get hot and go on a run.
To do that, Dallas’ big guns must fire on all cylinders. And being at home should provide a boost as the Stars throttled Nashville 5-2 on Dec. 8 in their last home game.
Dallas is 7-4-2 at the AAC. The record plummets to 4-9-4 when on the road.
Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza and Patrick Eaves have combined to score 14 goals and 31 points in just 13 home games. They are a combined minus-5 at home.
In 17 road games the quartert has 47 points and 19 goals, but are a combined minus-34. If only Seguin could bottle that road magic (8 goals, 10 assists) and bring it to the AAC.
Antti Niemi is expected to get the home start tonight. He has a 1.98 goals-against-average and is 5-1-1 in seven home starts.
The first 30 games have not gone the way anyone thought they would.
Head coach Lindy Ruff and the Stars have the season ahead of them. The injuries and poor play can all be forgotten with a strong eight-game stretch.
If Dallas can find themselves before the end of 2016, they may repeat San Jose’s path into the playoffs.