The Dallas Stars seem to have finally hit rock bottom. With playoff hopes basically a pipe dream at this point, it’s clear that it just wasn’t in the cards this year.
Have you ever had a day when it seems as though nothing is going your way? Maybe you are late to work, receive a pay cut, accidentally drink expired milk, get a flat tire on the way home, and stub your toe just before going to bed.
As the day progressively gets worse, you frustratedly throw your fist up and yell, “Why me?,” in hopes of receiving an answer. It just seems as though something or someone is out to get you.
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That’s probably how the Dallas Stars are feeling right now after picking up their fourth straight loss on Thursday night and all but shattering the playoff hopes they once held so dear.
After initially going down 2-0 to the Ottawa Senators, the Stars clawed back to tie things up 2-2. They had played exceptionally well up to that point and truly looked as though they were finally going to break the losing slump and pick up two crucial points that would help stop the bleeding of their playoff hopes.
But, as the Dallas Stars seem to always do, they found a way to lose. An awkward bounce off of the end boards after an initial shot set Mark Stone up for a golden opportunity on a wraparound and he cashed in. Just like that, the Stars lost 3-2.
What is so wrong? Why can’t the Dallas Stars win one game, even when they earn it? Are they cursed? Sure their postseason dreams may be entirely crushed at this point, but will they even win another game before the season ends?
It seems as though the infamous Hockey Gods are out to get Dallas this season. After staying dormant last season and allowing the Stars to run the Western Conference, they are out in full force this season with one target: the Stars’ dignity.
They started the year off at a slow pace, giving Dallas some trials that seemed minor at first but turned out to be rather overwhelming. These trials came in the form of injuries. The Stars lost Mattias Janmark and Ales Hemsky, two of their top six forwards, for the entire season due to separate injuries.
The injury ward began to grow as Patrick Sharp, Jason Spezza, Johnny Oduya, and Cody Eakin all missed extensive amounts of play as well. Even captain Jamie Benn missed a couple of games, which basically never happens. The injuries are still occurring on a regular basis and digging Dallas into a deeper and deeper hole. Thanks a lot, Hockey Gods.
Besides the injuries, there are plenty of other instances in which it seems that a higher power is causing the Dallas Stars to stumble and fall.
Most recently, the Stars have seemed to be dealt a bad hand when it comes to opposing goaltenders. In this past week, Dallas faced off with Curtis McElhinney (Toronto) and Mike Condon (Ottawa). Neither technically owns the starting job with their team, meaning that neither is a weathered veteran starter.
But that didn’t stop them from having nights to remember. McElhinney finished the night 39-40 with a .975 save percentage as the Maple Leafs defeated the Stars 3-1 on Tuesday. Condon followed that performance up with a 31-33 night with a .939 save percentage for himself that resulted in a 3-2 win for Ottawa.
Then there was the weak calls in Toronto. The Maple Leafs scored their third goal after receiving over two minutes of 5-on-3 action after the referees tagged Dallas with two very controversial penalties.
The first was on Adam Cracknell for goaltender interference, even though it seemed as though Cracknell was given a little shove from behind and could not evade the goalie after breaking through the slot shorthanded and charging for the net with an intent to score. The second came on Radek Faksa for playing the puck with his hand, even though the replay clearly showed that Faksa’s hand was still secure on his stick when he played the puck off of the face-off.
And then you could berate the gods for the goals that were given away to Ottawa. The first one came on an awkward shot off the face-off while the Senators were shorthanded, officially giving Dallas the most shorthanded goals against of any team in the league.
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But the second one may as well be considered the pinnacle moment of this recent slump for the Stars. After drawing a penalty and emptying the net, the Stars scored a goal on themselves as Jiri Hudler attempted a drop pass that ended up sailing into the yawning net. Then there was the unfortunate bounce that led to the game winner.
Perhaps the most frustrating thing that has plagued the Stars so far in this most recent stretch is the fact that they are playing great hockey and still finding ways to lose. Since Jan. 21, it’s been clear that Dallas is playing a new brand of hockey. They seem more energized, determined, physical, and passionate. It feels like they want to win now.