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Stars Will Need To Overcome Demons Of Playoffs Past, Mistakes Of Today To Advance

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Game 7 hasn’t been kind to the Stars in recent years.

Colorado Avalanche v Dallas Stars - Game Six Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

This morning, I turned on my Spotify Daily Mix playlist. The first song that popped up was a remixed Dolly Parton song, “Faith”. The opening chorus struck a note on this, the day of Game 7 between the Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche:

Know the road gets hard
And you just wanna leave
I ain’t ever too far
Just have a little faith in me
When all the fears you hide
Are all you can believe
Oh, I’ll be standing by your side
Just have a little faith in me

Many Stars fans are not feeling the faith in the team today. Not after watching them waste a two-game series lead to the Avalanche. Not after seeing how the team responded both times they could have dispatched their opponent — with flat performances, stupid penalties, and a sudden disappearance by the top forwards that are supposed to come up clutch in games like that.

Not when that storyline feels all too familiar — and the ending resulted in the Stars being eliminated from the postseason in recent memory.

It’s hard to describe what would be considered a success for the Stars this year. At the beginning of the year, after adding Joe Pavelski in the offseason and with one of the stoutest defensive structures in the league, many scouts, executives, and pundits believed that the team was built for the postseason. Some even chose them as dark horse Stanley Cup winners.

But that was before.

Before a 1-7-1 start to the season. Before recovering with a 14-1-1 answer. Before suddenly dismissing then-head coach Jim Montgomery. Before interim head coach Rick Bowness took over with seemingly mixed results. Before Corey Perry’s infamous walk of shame at the Winter Classic and a comeback win on the sport’s biggest stage of the regular season. Before the world came to a halt due to COVID-19 as the team spiraled on a losing streak and blew whatever cushion they had built over teams charging hard up the playoff standings, and the regular season was paused (and eventually cancelled.)

In the midst of a pandemic, and players living in bubbles completely shut off from the world, their families, and any sense of normalcy, maybe success is defined by the fact that they made it this far at all. After a rather disastrous round robin showing, most anticipated Dallas would get trounced by the Calgary Flames.

They didn’t.

Instead, the team did what they have done all season long. They were resilient. Even without their starting goaltender, and losing feel-good comeback story and Masterton finalist Stephen Johns on defense, the team found a way. Though they failed to eliminate the Avalanche the last two times they played, this team is used to adversity. They overcame so much of it this year (and a lot of it, of their own doing) that there is no reason to believe they can’t do it again.

Yes, Game 7s in seasons past have been bitter memories to carry for players and fans alike. But those were different teams, those were different times.

Have a little faith in me
Just have a little faith in me
Have a little faith in me
Just have a little faith in me

Puck drops at 3 PM CDT on USA Network (because of horses or something).

DALLAS STARS LINEUP

Bowness didn’t play coy this time. Anton Khudobin is the starter today. He’ll have the chance to take this team past a Game 7 for the first time in his career. He’s going to want that win. Hopefully the rest of the team wants it for him just as badly. Here’s what they rolled with in Game 6:

Jamie BennTyler SeguinAlexander Radulov
Mattias JanmarkJoe PavelskiDenis Gurianov
Jason DickinsonRoope HintzCorey Perry
Andrew CoglianoRadek FaksaBlake Comeau

Esa LindellJohn Klingberg
Jamie OleksiakMiro Heiskanen
Andrej SekeraTaylor Fedun

Anton Khudobin

COLORADO AVALANCHE LINEUP

The Avalanche used this lineup in Game 6, though that top line was mixed up with the second line for stretches. It worked pretty well for them, and allowed more balanced scoring. Dallas will need to be prepared for either look this game.

Gabriel LandeskogNathan MacKinnonMikko Rantanen
Andre BurakovskyNazem KadriValeri Nichushkin
Tyson JostJ.T. CompherVladislav Namestnikov
Matt Nieto – Pierre-Edouard Bellemare – Logan O’Connor

Ryan GravesCale Makar
Samuel GirardConor Timmins
Ian ColeNikita Zadorov

Michael Hutchinson