You've gone out to the AAC 29 times this season, Stars fans. You've left happy 14.
You came out for a five-game home stand that wrapped tonight. You watched them give up 3, 3, 3, 4 and 5 goals- 3.6 against per in the critical stretch, leading to a 2-3 mark in the win/loss column, and no progress made in the wildcard race.
Tonight it was another classic road game at home as the Stars' abode was occupied by Chicago Blackhawk supporters- "Fans" might be a stretch. They celebrated five times- Six if you include a reviewed goal.
Six eruptions of joy matched visually by the stunning vistas of red. The captain in the penalty box to end it. Their captain slamming a puck into an empty net with less than a second to go- Just because he can. The third time in the third period the puck went into the Dallas net with #3 in green looking on.
After the number of gut punches you've seen, dear Stars fan, it's a wonder this one can still feel that- But it does. The latest in a series of almosts, but not quite.
You could argue that this one wasn't really an almost. The Faksa goal was fun but it wasn't a result of sustained pressure, superior individual effort, coaching or team play- It was a weird one from a severe angle that Crawford seriously botched.
He then botched the Seguin goal- Inexplicably hopping up as Seguin released a shot that, at the time of its release, was heading toward a brick wall of pads.
You could argue that this game could have been much more lopsided in Chicago's favor thanks to Crawford- But taking a lead in a wild five-goal third period keeps that sting. Up 3-2 your sports heart hoped it would be so.
Chicago, however, carried the play for long stretches in all three periods- Look at this stretch straddling the first and second where the Hawks barely noticed that Faksa had scored, instead racing past the Stars in possession and taking a lead despite valiant efforts from Kari Lehtonen to deny it.
Patrick Kane was on the ice for all three Chicago third-period tallies, and was robbed by Kari Lehtonen on a breakaway earlier in the night (Klingberg on ice for this as well)- Went between his legs on another attempt all alone in front and had another near breakaway in the second. Jamie Benn had another visually pleasing game tonight, including the goal, but Kane was better.
You could argue that the Hartman goal was a bad break- But you could also argue that the entire sequence was started about a minute earlier when Stephen Johns very unfortunately experienced some kind of spontaneous combustion at the attacking blue line that begin a multi-shift flurry for Chicago.
It's a multi-faceted letdown emblematic of the season as a whole. The goaltending is good but the offense can't score. Or the offense is scoring but they penalty kill is killing them rather than the opposition's advances. It's always something, and it seems to be a different kind of something depending on what day of the week it is.
At 3-2 tonight the Stars needed to find a way to hold that lead. The straw that broke this particular camel's back came 35 seconds after they got that lead, however, when Klingberg allowed Kane to advance beyond his position without occupying a passing lane. Klingberg's angle to recover, or Kari's effort on the shot attempt aside- Klingberg allowed Kane the room a while before the goal was scored, and that was that as it turned out.
Then there's this- I am not even sure this is true and could be some kind of a problem at Hockeystats.ca ... The GREAT hockeystats.ca, which you should visit with a regularity at the very least matching that of your bowels- But how is this possible?
That seems bad.
Shoutout to the Hamhuis stop. Shoutout to a pretty good tilt from Antoine "Dominic" Roussel, if you're into that sort of thing. Lots of little good things in there. The sum total this season, to say nothing of tonight, just doesn't stack up.
Now it's on to Toronto (Tuesday) and Ottawa (Thursday) before returning to face the Hurricanes Saturday.
Err, happy Saturday or something. Be safe tomorrow.