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Dallas Stars Daily Links: On the Ides of March, the L.A. Kings Twist the Knife, 5-2

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The Stars open old wounds with a "big letdown" in AAC. Plus, happy news from the Spezza family, and updates from the NHL general managers' meeting.

Anze Kopitar is really, really, really good at hockey. Let us never discuss him again.
Anze Kopitar is really, really, really good at hockey. Let us never discuss him again.
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

If nothing else, March 15 seems like an appropriate day to be stabbed in your Dallas Stars fan-feelings. On the Ides of March 2016, the Los Angeles Kings struck the first shocking blow with Kris Versteeg's goal 23 seconds into the game, and they just kept twisting the knife before the 5-2 conclusion.

Mike Heika is one of those who are left to make sense of the Stars' wild swings over the past few days, from utter dominance of the reigning Stanley Cup champions on Friday to their seeming haplessness against the Kings last night.

Stars coach Lindy Ruff logged his 1,400th career regular season game Tuesday, so he has a better handle on the answers than most, but this is a puzzling Stars team. Are they coming together with 11 games left in the regular season and raising their level of play to meet the battle for first place in the Central Division? Or are they riddled with holes after the "tired" Kings came in and dominated despite flying in from Chicago Monday night?

He also takes a look at where the team currently stands in the playoff race, and what they stand to lose if the Kings are allowed to pass them in the Western Conference standings.

While the Stars are likely going to play a team in the Central Division in the first round of the playoffs, getting passed by the Kings could shuffle things up a bit. If Los Angeles finishes first, it would get the second wildcard team in the first round of the playoffs -- likely Minnesota or Colorado. If the Stars were then to win the Central, they would likely get the first wildcard team -- Nashville.

There's more at The Dallas Morning News. [SportsDayDFW]

*****

Head coach Lindy Ruff said the Stars-Kings rout was no small letdown in his postgame presser.

Razor, of course, expresses your feelings so you don't have to (and offers his best Ezio Auditore da Firenze impersonation as well).

In more cheerful news, the Stars enjoyed a bench-side visit from a celebrity guest last night.

I suspect not even the L.A. loss could ruin Speznasty's mood yesterday: He and his wife, Jen, welcomed their fourth daughter into the world yesterday afternoon.

Bruce LeVine provides even more detail, and it's pretty amazing.

The latest episode of "Stars Sunday" is now on the web for your time-shifted listening pleasure.

And Rich Peverley took to Twitter to express his thanks for Pevs Protects Night in Dallas.

And Scott Burnside has written about the night Peverley collapsed and his life after hockey. (File under I'm not crying, you're crying.) [ESPN]

Not long after her husband nearly died on the Dallas Stars' bench, Nathalie Peverley wrote a note to head coach Lindy Ruff. ...Ruff's voice was one of the first voices Peverley heard as he regained consciousness, and Nathalie believes to this day the coach played a vital role in helping her husband survive.

...Ruff's voice falters occasionally when talking about that night, recalling the moments when he wondered if they had lost Rich Peverley for good and the almost unspeakable feelings of joy when Peverley returned to consciousness in that hallway and asked why everyone was standing around and if he could get back in the game.

"When I get pissed off about hockey, I just read that letter," Ruff said, pausing again. "It brings me back to normal."

It was another relatively quiet night in the #MDK; the Minnesota Wild fell to the Ottawa Senators 3-2 in the Central Division's only other action. [Silver Seven Sens]

Tonight, of course, will be different:

From the No-News Department, the Washington Capitals are the first NHL team to cross the postseason line.

And here's the overtime goal by Alex Ovechkin that sealed the deal.

The Great 8 is closing in on Jaromir Jagr's goal tally, and Ruff is among those recognized for reaching career milestones in the latest Five Things We Learned. [Sportsnet]

With so many key players sidelined with injuries, the Montreal Canadiens may be battered, but their fans are unbowed.

And despite the team's woeful post-Carey Price collapse, reports are that Habs head coach Michel Therrien is likely to keep his job next season. [CBS Sports]

Meanwhile, Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman says problematic forward Jonathan Drouin could be back from the AHL this season. [Toronto Sun]

The NHL's general managers are exploring several options to increase scoring, from full two-minute penalties even after goals to icing calls during penalty kills.

Jared Clinton goes deeper into the impact of one likely change: streamlined goalie equipment. [The Hockey News]

And Josh Cooper reports on the GMs' decision not to expand Rule 48, a.k.a. the Headshot Rule. [Puck Daddy]

Does the NFL's admission of a connection between football-related head trauma and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) have implications for the NHL's concussion lawsuit? [Sports Illustrated]

In honor of Shayne Gostisbehere's awesome nickname, the Wells Fargo Center scoreboard has gone Ghost Bear.

Catch a preview of the Texas Stars' upcoming games this week as the Cedar Park squad continues its own race to the playoffs.

Finally: The Dallas Stars Foundation shared the sad news that former Ice Girl Meagan Flaherty died March 13, 2016, after fighting for nearly a year with acute myeloid leukemia. Please keep her family in your thoughts.