Funny story: I have daughters, one of which is currently cutting a few teeth. For those of you with kids it’s that super great phase where she goes to sleep, waits a few hours, and then wakes up screaming periodically for the next few hours. In addition to being a nice general metaphor about following the Dallas Stars, this is specifically relevant to last night. You see, right around 9:15pm, she had a crying fit. By the time she’d been cuddled and returned to her crib I’d missed three Calgary goals and not a single Stars shot. Night ruined, but I already had my drink and my spot on the couch, why not watch for a little bit? Seven goals later I was as gobsmacked as anyone at the victory
Ladies and gentlemen, your 2019-2020 Dallas Stars!
So this is a good thing, right? An epic goal-stravaganza comeback to send the formerly starved Stars shooting into the second round. Instead of being worried about Game 7, fans can focus on getting Miro Heiskanen (a top 5 defender in the NHL, fight me) the attention he richly deserves or wondering which, by playoff’s end, will be higher: Denis Gurianov’s goals or his average ice time.
And shouldn’t we have had more faith to begin with? This is, after all, the same team that came from behind in three of their four victories this series, and for that matter, were twice trailing in the best of seven (1-0 and 2-1). If you want Big Game bonafides, think back to the Winter Classic and their wonderful rally to see off the Nashville Predators. Heck, didn’t they save their season during That Game versus the Minnesota Wild? The art of the comeback is in their DNA.
Everyone stand and marvel at the Cardiac Stars.
There is a difference, though, between exciting and good. Maybe I’m just earning my roster spot on the Party Pooping All-Stars, but as exhilarating as last night’s rally was, it is far more a cause for worry than excitement. Last night, I would argue, was a very bad thing.
To overcome a three goal deficit, the Dallas Stars had to first completely no-show the game’s first period. This was a team on the verge of the second round. An older team playing a short tournament where every additional day of rest could prove critical. Furthermore, the Stars had already cost themselves a listless and disjointed Game 1. The Flames, meanwhile, had already lost their leading scorer (Matthew Tkachuk). One of those teams had every reason to open Game 6 with their best effort of the season. The Stars were not able to bring that level of effort, at least not until things went completely bonkers in the second period.
Their prize for such heroics is the Colorado Avalanche, fresh from pummeling the Arizona Coyotes 4-1 in their opening round. So far, the Avs have lost a single game since reaching the Edmonton bubble, and even that required a 49-save performance by Arizona’s Darcy Kuemper. Colorado responded to that loss by dropping 14 goals on the hopeless Yotes in Games 5 and 6. Before things could get complicated, in other words, the Avs dropped the hammer and took care of business.
While the Stars reached roughly the same result, their process does not inspire nearly as much confidence.
Dallas enters this series with every chance to win. Their goaltending has been superb, John Klingberg is winning games with his offense, Heiskanen is all-world, and even the offense is revved up. What the Stars cannot, under any circumstances, afford to do is no-show for significant stretches of hockey like they’ve been wont to do in the bubble so far.
Best case, the Calgary series served as a valuable wakeup call, and we’ll see a more dialed-in version of Dallas moving forward. Worst case, an effort-inconsistent bunch just received the nastiest kind of validation.
Only time will tell, I suppose.