Good quote from Mikey-Mo...
"We've felt if we could get Game 6 at home, it would be a whole different animal," Modano said. "And then, who knows what can happen Wednesday in Detroit? But we don't want to get ahead of ourselves. We knew it would be an uphill battle. Nobody picked us to win this thing from the start. The last couple games, we've found a way to win. We know the odds are against us. But you never say never until the final buzzer goes."
So the East is decided, thanks to a resounding victory by the high-flying Pittsburg Penguins. Congrats to the Pens and much kudos to the Flyers for a gritty, determined, and impressive run. I was also quite amazed at the way the Pens finished off the game with a shutout ... Fleury was amazing and the kids were unflappable!
Let me say once again - no matter who the teams are, watching the handshakes gives me the chills! I love the history and tradition behind it and it absolutely signifies why hockey is the best of all sports!
Now to the more pressing issue ... can the Dallas STARS make history and join the Pens in the Cup Finals? Anything is possible if you believe
! After being on the opposite side of the 33-year theory against San Jose, I have been forced to switch my view! I likened it to another president being assassinated between 2063 and 2065 ... how absurd of me! (please note the sarcastic tone!
) Yes, Dallas was down 0-3, and yes, history tells us only two teams have come back from that deficit. But I think the STARS should worry not about what was, but what currently is. The fact of the matter is the series is now 3-2, and tomorrow night they must worry only about getting it to 3-3. The one definite advantage of being down 0-3 is that every game's outcome means playing another one, or hitting the links. No doubt the pressure (in this case) is on the Wings to finish it off. Their mentality every game is we still have another chance next game even if Dallas happens to win this one
. That is the perfect scenario for the STARS because, as has been the case the last 2 games, Dallas has stepped up their play and Detroit has (somewhat) lessened theirs.
Not to take anything away from Detroit, because they are flat-out great ... but the STARS are a whole lot better than the team that stepped onto the ice in the first 3 games. I think it highly possible that the 4OT game against San Jose had a major impact on their legs and overall energy. Not only that, but two other games in that series went into overtime as well. Maybe that is exactly the reason they looked flat and the Wings skated circles around them. In the last two wins, the STARS have definitely returned to form ... they look like the team that beat Anaheim and San Jose. Missing Lehtinen and Barnes certainly impacts their performance and it shows throughout each game, but they have played well enough to win them. Out of the 17 total games the STARS have played, 9 of them have been decided by 2 goals or less. Starting with the San Jose series, 7 of the last 12 games have been decided by 1 goal. That tells us those games could easily have gone either way. But in the wins Dallas did enough to lock it up and in the losses they came up barely short. They have certainly earned the spot they are in.
Just as no one believed the STARS would sweep Anaheim or San Jose, no one really believed the Wings would sweep Dallas. Though Detroit rumbled out to a 3-0 lead, the current 3-2 lead is far more appropriate. The STARS are nowhere near the much depleted Colorado Avalanche, nor are they really on the same level as Detroit. But more so than any other team in the playoffs, they seem to have an endless supply of HEART!
Led fully by the Captain, Brendan Morrow, the STARS have not given up on this season. After dismissing the Ducks and Sharks in six games, they were tired ... they didn't have anything left in the tank. Going into game 4 down 0-3, in front of the home crowd, the STARS mustered up everything that was left and decided to leave it all on the ice. They had nothing to lose and played balls-to-the-wall. Even after giving up the tying goal one minute into the 3rd period, they kept it together. At least for one night, there would be no sweep ... not tonight, not in our house!
They continued to fight and finally put a game away; they also gained some momentum. In game 5, they faced head on the monkey (or octopus, as it is) that is Joe Louis Arena. Marty Turco had never won there as a professional player. Dallas had not won there in the playoffs since before they left Minnesota. Everything was aligned for the STARS to bow out gracefully to the Wings of destiny, and go quietly into that lonesome summer! But again, it was not to be! Marty's first save at the beginning of the game was the clincher. After that, they might as well have put 1-0 on the scoreboard and sent the guys back to Dallas! At that moment, I told my wife that Marty had finally made that
save and the win was a lock. He also got back to playing the puck often ... which is something this team thrives on. He got the primary assist on the game-winner and his initial pass led to the first goal as well. At least 5 or 6 times in the game his pass led to an odd-man rush. All in all, he looked very Marty Turco-like
! With a final score of 2-1, the STARS had FINALLY
won a playoff game at the Joe
! Furthermore, considering game 6 is back in Dallas and in front of the home crowd, the momentum has completely swung in their favor!
The moral of the story is the same as always ... its not over till its over
! Being swept would have been an enormous short-change of this Dallas STARS' team. The journey has been long and difficult, but they are still more than alive! I love how the media and hockey people all over jumped back on the "Dallas-never-had-a-chance" bandwagon. I love even more now hearing them have to give Dallas its due credit! In fact, I'm sincerely concerned that Mike Milbury might lose his job for all the good things he said about the STARS during game 5. Finally, something more than a sentence or two complimenting a STARS player or the team. Thank-you Mike!
As I have said before, Detroit may well finish off this series as many expect them to do. But the STARS have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, no matter how this season ends. They have erased so many playoff woes and ghosts of years' past! They have gotten the monkeys off their backs and sent them to my good friend, DucksFan07
! For crying out loud, they are the 3rd best team in the league this year and still playing! As a STARS fan that bleeds green, I am enormously proud of this team, as they should be of each other! Tomorrow night they will have the chance to prove they truly belong in this series. The STARS have the momentum, they have the home crowd, they have the 33-year historical anomaly, and they have the right group of players. Simply put, they have enough on their side to win tomorrow night as well as game 7! And when they do join Pittsburg in the Cup Finals, they will have beaten the 3 best teams in the West, the ghosts of the past, and the statistical odds of playoff history. I say what better way
? I BELIEVE!
Some final notes...
*Dallas is 2-0 in game 6's this postseason ... both series clinchers
*The STARS were 2-1 in home games per each of the first 2 series; they are currently 1-1 in this series
*In the 1999 Conference Finals against Colorado, Dallas trailed 3-2 and won both of the final games on their way to winning the Cup!
*Mike Modano is now the top American playoff scorer
*All of the kids are stepping up HUGE - Eriksson, Lundqvist, Petersen, Niskanen, Grossman, and Fistric
*Morrow, Modano, and Turco are leading by example
*The crowd and atmosphere at the AAC tomorrow night will be the loudest, most raucous I have ever been a part of! 21 hours ... I cannot wait!
*Fun with numbers ... 14+17-19+21 = 33
(those are the dates of the final 4 games - all STARS [will-be] wins!)
*Dallas is the 13th team out of 153 to make 3-0 into 3-2; only five have made it 3-3, and, as we all know, only 2 have won the series