After dwelling in the basement of the Western Conference for most of the season, including dead last at #15 only 19 games ago, the Dallas Stars have battled all the way back to the #7 seed. According to the NHL, the Players Association, and the Collective Bargaining Agreement ... that means the Stars are currently a playoff team! With their domination over Detroit this year, especially recently, it is a shame the playoffs don't start tomorrow! [On a completely related note, the hated Wings have lost 5 in a row!]
Its safe to say that Marty Turco and the Dallas Stars are looking more and more like the team everyone expected them to be. Though the battle has really just begun, they are very much back in the mix. I like the article on www.DallasStars.com
, (title borrowed from the infamous tirade by former Arizona Cardinals' coach Dennis Green, after his team allowed the Bears to come back and steal a game), They Are Who We Thought They Were.
Indeed, this is the determination and hard work and skill of the team that finished 2 wins away from the Stanley Cup Finals last spring. This Stars' team is not only capable of making the playoffs, but capable of another deep run. In the same article mentioned above, the writer mimics a point I made in a previous blog ... that the 5th seed is the true attainable finish and I believe that should be their focus. Though granted, if they keep playing like they are then anything
is possible. I also stated that the next 3 games against Detroit, Columbus, and Calgary could be season-defining. Well, so far so good!
Everyone always talks about the mentality of what have you done for me lately?
These Stars have won 4 in a row and propelled themselves to the #7 seed. First they shutout a horrendous Thrashers' team, then they dominated
the champs, and tonight they thoroughly shellacked a very good Columbus squad. Vs. Detroit - Marty was brilliant and finally won a regular season game at the Joe
, Dallas scored 3 goals in the 1st period, and they scored 3 power play goals and only gave up 1. Most impressively, the Stars allowed FOUR shots on net in the third period, after the Red Wings had gained a lot of momentum in the second. Vs. Columbus - again Dallas jumped on them early, scoring 3 goals in the first period. The Stars didn't have their best defensive effort for 60 minutes, but it was good enough. Besides, there was really no need for too much defense considering the Olympic-size swimming pool of a net on the other end! Also, there were several pipes hit by both teams, so the score could have been more like the All-Star game.
Simply put, the Stars are streaking in all the right ways. Some stats on the season:
*their combined record for October/November was 8-11-4 (20 points)
*their combined record for December/January was 15-7-3 (33 points)
*since November 26 their record is 17-8-3 (37 points)
*their record in January alone is 7-3-2 (16 points) including steaks of 4-0-0 (8 of 8 points), 5-1-0 (10 of 12 points), and 6-1-2 (14 of 18 points)
*they should well be on a 9-game winning streak ... 1-0 shootout loss to Phoenix, blew a 4-2 lead in the 3rd against Buffalo, and blew a 2-1 lead in the 3rd against Tampa
*15th and bottom seed (in the entire NHL at one point too, I think) 19 games ago and now currently in 7th
Injuries and the sophomore slump had a major negative impact on this team. A healthy Lehtinen, Ott, and Lundqvist have balanced the team and allowed each individual to do his job and only his job. The young defensemen have settled down and it appears the slump is over. Niskanen has played really well alongside Sydor, and Grossman has been Hatcher-esque at times. Otter has done an admirable job trying to fill in for Brendan Morrow. Especially of late, with 5 goals and 9 points, and all without a single fight. It's too bad; if not for his hand injury he would be racking up the Gordie Howe hat tricks. [For the record, Ott clearly threw his leg out tonight at Nash and I was extremely disappointed. Hopefully, that's the last time we'll see him cross that line.]
Neal, Modano, Eriksson, Richards, Ribeiro, Lehtinen, and even the defensemen ... everyone is chipping in. Oh, and Marty is back to being Marty ... calm, cool, patient, and larcenous! Keep righting the ship boys ... you are who we thought you were!
34 games left (3-0-0)
+4 points = 53
+0 points given away = 0
Currently 7th seed (2 points out of 5th and 7 points out of 4th)
Max of 4 games in hand
Trade Deadline Activity: