If the Dallas Stars were the type of team to give up after bad (and I mean really bad) losses, they had plenty of opportunities during the regular season.
There was that 6-2 loss to the New York Rangers in early January, or the 6-3 thumping at the hands of the Arizona Coyotes the next month. The Bruins even laid a 7-3 walloping the next game to take things from bad to worse.
Part of the point is that when the Stars are bad, like they were last night in Game 3 against the St. Louis Blues, they can be really, really bad. But despite those moments that Stars fans have blocked from their collective memory, they have been able to show many other nights just what a talented team they are.
Take the 5-2 loss to Los Angeles in mid-March. It felt fairly disastrous at the time, with the Blues and Chicago Blackhawks making hard charges in the Central Division and the Stars giving up 10 goals in two games. But after that, even while losing Tyler Seguin to a serious injury, Dallas reeled off nine wins in their last 11 games to win the division by two points.
And that ability to mentally put away a bad game (mostly the second period, but the whole game can go along with it) is exactly what Lindy Ruff is counting on as his team heads into Game 4 tomorrow night.
"I think what we've done through the playoffs, we've had some bad periods and we've been able to flush them and be ready to go," Ruff said after the team's optional practice. "The atmosphere in that room is great. There's always disappointment. I think we're a team that's learning how to balance the emotion of getting too high and not getting low. We've played some pretty good hockey when we've played a disappointing period here or there."
The team will have to bounce back without Patrick Eaves and Tyler Seguin, who both continued to skate in Dallas. Eaves may be an option for Game 5 on Saturday, but Seguin's status is less clear.
An optional practice made it difficult to get a handle on any potential lineup changes (the third and fourth lines were pretty poor possession-wise last night), but Kari Lehtonen was the first goalie off the ice.
Ruff addressed the Stars two-goalie system once again, as it seems it's still a point of contention among the media.
"We had two goalies that played really well for us who got us to where we got, and last time I checked, it was a pretty good place," Ruff said. "Do they stumble every now and then? Yeah, they do. But the alternative is I have another guy to go to all the time, and they've bought into the way we've been doing it, and it's led us to this point. What we do from this point on will be determined by tomorrow night again, and that's all we're going to do."