When the Dallas Stars square off against the Winnipeg Jets tonight, they’ll be playing in their fifth consecutive road game, having lost each of the past four. Once a team firmly in the playoff race that even dipped into third in the Central every now and then, the Stars are in danger of missing the postseason altogether.
Yet while most fans are grabbing the pitchforks or throwing in the cards, head coach Ken Hitchcock is looking at it from another angle:
“I think it’s a lot of fun. I think anytime you can be involved in one of these races where every period, every shift matters so much, you really do grow quickly as an organization. To me, the goal for this organization isn’t just to get in the playoffs, the goal is to win the Stanley Cup. So being involved in these races gives you experience, gives you information, gives you a reality check, gives you proper reads on people - how they handle stress, how they handle pressure.”
Hitchcock thinks the teams recent struggles have been fun, as they are preparing the team for the tough challenges that await them in the playoffs.
Perhaps he’s just trying to stay positive as to not discourage his players, who are no doubt feeling horrible about the four-game losing streak?
I’ve been happy with the past two games because we showed resiliency in both games. It was devastating to pour everything back into that Toronto game, and then not get two points. Then, to come back and have such an emotional goal scored on us in Ottawa and still be able to come back and get a point. We have to take the positives out of that.
You can read more in Mike Heika’s interview with Ken Hitchcock here.
In case you want to relive Friday’s loss to the Ottawa Senators, here are Scott Burnside’s five takeaways from the game: [NHL]
Sean Shapiro took to the film room recently to break down the play of some young Stars:
Film Room: Trying to make sense of Julius Honka https://t.co/sszJYgrYCb— Sean Shapiro (@seanshapiro) March 16, 2018
Film Room: Taking a look at Stars goalie prospect Jake Oettinger https://t.co/Du9J2UXOw7— Sean Shapiro (@seanshapiro) March 17, 2018
Good news! The Hockey News took a close look at the Stars’ pipeline in their Prospect Podcast, and fans have a lot to look forward to (discussion starts at the 23:23 mark): [The Hockey News]
Speaking of prospects and good news, the Texas Stars let in two late goals but still pulled out ahead of the Manitoba Moose:
Texas Stars Lead Start to Finish, Topping Manitoba Moose 6-4 https://t.co/iTnJ3HdfUE #txstars pic.twitter.com/KyxUGgzoTK— 100 Degree Hockey (@100degreehockey) March 18, 2018
Last night was busy in the NHL, with three Central rivals playing:
- The Chicago Blackhawks improved their lottery odds last night, losing to the Buffalo Sabres 5-3. [Die By the Blade]
- The St. Louis Blues, on the other hand, are still fighting to get back into a playoff spot, picking up a 4-3 overtime win over the New York Rangers. [NHL]
- Minnesota Wild further cemented their hold on third place, beating the Arizona Coyotes 3-1. [NHL]
Winnipeg is going to have a playoff team once more, and as long as they have Patrik Laine that probably won’t change anytime soon:
St. Patrik Laine has Jets looking like perennial contender https://t.co/HQptTISMk2— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) March 17, 2018
On the other end of the spectrum, could Joel Quenneville be on his way out of Chicago? Down Goes Brown discusses this and more in his Saturday Storylines. [Sportsnet]
The Boston Bruins beat the Tampa Bay Lightning last night, but David Backes suffered a nasty cut in the process:
Bruins’ David Backes suffers leg laceration in collision (video) https://t.co/AwNBsStepr— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) March 18, 2018
Speaking of the Lightning, the team may be in real trouble as the playoffs draw closer: [FanRag Sports]
One of the team’s issues might be relying too much on goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy. Matt Larkin discusses this and more in his mailbag. [The Hockey News]
Looks like the Carolina Hurricanes won’t have a replacement for Ron Francis anytime soon:
My understanding is that Carolina is now shifting gears. Going to put a pause on the new GM search until the off-season when a wider field of candidates may emerge. Timing wasn't right for many guys.— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) March 17, 2018
Did GM Jim Nill make a mistake by standing pat at the trade deadline? Adam Gretz breaks down the deadline acquisitions who have produced the most so far. [NBC Sports]
Thanks to the PHWA, Stars fans now know exactly who to snark at via Twitter if John Klingberg doesn’t win the Norris:
Members of the PHWA have voted by an overwhelming margin to reveal each voter's individual ballot following this year's National Hockey League Awards ceremony:https://t.co/sDAr37j25D— PHWA (@ThePHWA) March 16, 2018
I present to you without comment:
Whoa. pic.twitter.com/R9yqgIG7kf— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) March 18, 2018