Late-season games against the Predators are supposed to be miraculous. In 2015, it was the Art Ross buzzer-beater. Last season, Spezza got his 30th against the Perds as the Stars geared up for a serious playoff run, we figured.
Tonight, the miracle was that anyone made it out of the AAC on two good legs. And not everyone did, as Justin Dowling looks to be done for the season, proving that the universe is, as we had all figured by now, the Big Bully with Negligent Upbringing who is just kicking the poor ol’ Stars around for fun at this point.
Kari Lehtonen was livid after that seventh goal, as well he should be. Julius Honka couldn’t keep a good gap on the Perds’ third goal (Kari’s first), the five-on-three shot was basically perfect, and two other goals went in off defensemen. When all you have left to play for is pride, and when you’ve just seen your buddy pulled after giving up two raunchy goals in what might be his last appearance in the NHL...well, that makes a “7” in the visitor’s column pretty tough to stomach.
Here’s how bad the season has been: I’m going to try, from memory, to name everyone who was expected to begin the season with Dallas who will not be available for their final game of the year:
(I’m forgetting someone, aren’t I?)
Jim Nill had a candid (well, as candid as he can be right now) interview on the postgame show last night. Among the interesting things he said was, in alluding to some young kids that fans might be attached to, that the NHL is not a developmental league. That is, of course, true—especially when you’re an 8th defenseman on the Stars. Dallas isn’t looking for a long rebuild, and Jim Nill doesn’t sound like someone interested in investing in someone whose tools aren’t where the organization thinks they need to be. Whether that was aimed at Oleksiak, Johns, neither, or both...you can decide. (Though it wouldn’t shock me if they still found a way to protect Jordie Benn instead.)
We did get some glorious time with Honka and Klingberg paired together, and while it’s obviously not what the coaching staff wants to do, their synergy seemed apparent a few different times, particularly in transition. Call it a template for what sort of LHD might be needed, or call it a precursor to next year if you want. Either way, it was nice to see something else working, sort of, for once.
Jason Spezza scored a nice goal. Radek Faksa scored a goal (and a point) for the first time in like 10 games or so. Jason Dickinson scored a goal. Greg hit the post! That is basically what you are permitted to be happy about.
(Seriously though, Niemi really did deserve to be pulled after those two goals. That’s as bad as I’ve seen him look all year.)
One game left. It is against Colorado. I, for one, am assuming that the Stars will win that game, because Colorado is kind of an awful team. But the fun thing about hockey is that anything can happen. Also, for Dallas, that is the worst worst worst thing about hockey, and has been all year. Anything has happened, and everything. I am tired of everything happening to this team. Give these guys a break, universe.