The largest test of the win streak is coming up tonight, as the Stars get ready to face off against a team that has gone 7-0-1 in their last eight games, and sits atop of the NHL standings.
It's also a team that thoroughly embarrassed the Stars, having beaten them by a score of 8-1 at the American Airlines Center. It was probably the low point of the season for Dallas.
Since then, though, things have turned around for the Stars, and Mark Stepneski talks about the difference between the team now, and the one from several weeks ago.
The Stars look a lot different than they did a month ago. Gone are players like Jaromir Jagr, Derek Roy and Brenden Morrow, all dealt away prior to the NHL trade deadline. Into the mix are young players like Alex Chiasson, who has scored six goals in his first NHL games.
The Stars' game looks different as well. It's a more direct game - a north-south style - and it's paid dividends for the Stars.
"We're obviously a much different team now. We were playing a little more risky game back then, and I think we've really tightened that up. We're playing more direct and harder defensively," said Stars forward Eric Nystrom. "We made some moves and brought in some youth and a little bit of energy. I think our game is much more consistent now. These guys are really buying into the system. They are not as high risk, they are just driving the net and playing simple. The older guys we have here have been preaching that the whole year and we haven't been able to put it together. Right now, we are finding a way and it feels great."
That's helped fuel the Stars' recent run and pushed them up the Western Conference standings. The Stars' moved into the eighth and final playoff spot with their 2-1 win over San Jose on Saturday, but they dropped to ninth and two points out of eighth after Detroit won in Nashville Sunday evening. The Stars can climb back into the top eight with a win Monday.
Even though the Stars are sitting in 9th place, reaching the playoffs is still an incredibly difficult goal. The fact that they have come together and accomplished what they have now should make all Stars fans proud of the team on the ice, regardless of where they will be in the standings when the season ends.
With the schedule remaining, the Stars have a long road ahead of them. But this team is one that believes in themselves now, and they believe in each other. They are going to give it their all to win each game remaining in the season, and o take them and the fans into the post season for the first time in five years.
If they can manage to steal two points out of Chicago tonight, it will go a long way in getting them there.
Coming up in today's links: The Stars are being mentioned nationally now, an update on the playoff race after yesterday's games, and a video to remind us just how awesome playoffs can be.
- Big congratulations to the Texas Stars, who clinched the South Division title for the first time in franchise history with a 8-2 win over the San Antonio Rampage on Sunday. Cameron Gaunce had four assists, with Reilly Smith and Scott Glennie also have big offensive games. [HDH]
- Mark Stepneski also has his game preview for us, including a stats matchup between the two teams. [Stars Inside Edge]
- Puck Daddy has their annual death watch list going, and the Stars are far from the top of the list, thank goodness. Of course, that doesn't mean they can't take a jab at some of our recent playoff race failures. [Puck Daddy]
- Here's five surprises to the NHL season. The Stars are lumped in with another playoffless team that I would rather not be associated with. [Detroit Free Press]
- It's that time of year where GMs on the hot seat start seeing their names all over the place. At least according to this one, Joe Nieuwendyk is not one of them. [Globe And Mail]
- Canadian Media has been clamoring for Canadian teams to face each other in the first round of the playoffs. That's fine by me. They get their ratings boost, and Canada's odds of winning a cup goes way down. *maniacle laugh* [Globe And Mail]
- The Wings won last night against the lifeless Predators. The Preds face the Wings and the Jackets one more time each this season. It would be nice if they could remember how to win before those games. [ESPN]
- The Blackhawks won last night against the Blues, helping the Stars out in the playoff race ever so slightly. If they lose tonight though, that would help so much more. [NHL]
- Derek Roy sat down for a quick interview. Apparently his name has been pronounced wrong almost his entire career. It should be said like Patrick Roy. And, just for Stars fans, be spelled Roy[N] [The Province]
- If the Stars win tonight, their odds of making the playoffs skyrocket 17%. Also, for scoreboard watchers, tonight you are cheering for Calgary, Colorado, and San Jose. Blegh. [Sports Club Stats]
- For your video of the day, here is one of my all time favorite playoff games. I still remember going to watch this one at Sports City in Mesquite, and that place was insane. Game 7 against Colorado in 2000.