Dallas Stars' Home Ice Has Not Been An Advantage This Season
"Home ice advantage" is a foreign concept to the Dallas Stars this year.
Fact: the Dallas Stars have scored the third-most goals on home ice in the entire league to date (103), behind only the New York Islanders (113) and the Toronto Maple Leafs (107).
Fact: the Dallas Stars have allowed the most goals on home ice in the entire league to date (107). The Columbus Blue Jackets are second (103). There is a 51 goal difference between Dallas and the stringiest defense at home (Carolina with just 56 goals against on home ice).
Fact: the Dallas Stars have won just 12 of their 33 home games this season.
"I don't like our home record. In fact, I'm embarrassed with our home record."
- Dallas Stars head coach Lindy Ruff
Well Lindy Ruff, you can join the crowd of Dallas Stars fans that aren't exactly impressed with the home ice performance either this season.
As I sat in the lower bowl at the Anaheim Ducks game on Sunday night, watching fans stream out with about five minutes left after watching their team go down 3-1, I couldn't help but feel like the Stars lack any true crowd support unless they do something (namely, score a goal, lay a big bruising hit, or fight someone).
This is where I concluded: home ice for the Stars is a bit like a chicken and egg argument.
The fanbase for Dallas has shown that they're just dying to scream loudly and get into the battle with the players. In the playoffs last year, the environment at the American Airlines Center was hostile for Anaheim and was electric for Stars fans. Even this season, the crowd's gotten into the game when the Stars have scored goals and played well.
If the Stars played better on home ice, they'd have a raucous crowd. If the crowd gave them more support and showed more confidence in the team, the team would draw from it and play better, more energized, hockey.
Chicken, meet egg.
Unfortunately, we've seen one too many times a lead evaporate and yet another loss on home ice. So, fans are looking for the Stars to give them something to cheer about and between those occurrences they're waiting with baited breath for the other proverbial shoe to drop.
I think this is where the "Who cares?" thing came from after the announcement of opposing goal scoring by Jeff K in the American Airlines Center. You know who cares? I do. The Stars fan that wants her team to get into the playoffs so badly that if I could will them there myself I would.
That phrase just makes my blood boil. You should care that your team got scored on. You should care that the opposition the Stars are up against is a team of professional athletes that are capable of making nice plays just as your team is.
Fans can only control two things in the hockey world: where and when we spend our hard-earned money, and the enthusiasm we show for the sport.
With one of the best value in ticket prices among the NHL (yes, even with the season ticket prices increasing for next year, the Stars hold one of the cheapest average ticket prices in the league) it's easy to commit to a set of games to see this team play.
But when we are there, we as a fanbase need to do our part to give this team motivation. I know it's tough, especially with a team as frustrating and inconsistent as the Stars have been this season. But we can make this stretch of home games enjoyable, if we wish to. The home record for the Stars can improve, if the Stars can play well enough. It can be a home ice advantage if the chickens and the eggs work together.
And in the process, maybe the team and the fans can heal one another from this disappointing season and set the tone for a more positive year next year.