Dallas Stars Must Decide Whether They Will Shape Up Or Ship Out

The Dallas Stars are quickly entering the danger zone in regards to their playoff hopes. Unless they can crack open a sizable win streak and turn their season around in the next few weeks, the Stars will be looking at an early offseason.

It really wasn’t the ideal three-day weekend for Dallas sports teams.

Although the Dallas Mavericks found a way to secure their 13th win of the season in game 40 (that’s just painful), the Dallas Cowboys and Dallas Stars were highly unsuccessful.

The Cowboys were eliminated from the postseason on Sunday afternoon after facing off with the Green Bay Packers in the NFC divisional round. After rallying from being down 21-3, the Cowboys (13-3), who had just completed one of the best seasons in franchise history all while starting two rookies at QB and HB, tied the game up in the dying seconds of the fourth quarter.

But after a miraculous long pass downfield set the Packers up in field goal range with three seconds left, Mason Crosby successfully ended the Cowboys’ run to the Super Bowl as time expired with a field goal that just barely squeaked in.

That was quite the gut punch for all Cowboys fans. It went from utter shock, to disbelief, to rage, and ultimately finished at with sadness as they realized that the impressive and unexpected run that the Cowboys had strung together had ended so abruptly. Now the wait for August begins to see if Dak Prescott can do it all over again.

That was probably the worst L of the extended weekend that Dallas fans caught. And then there were the Dallas Stars…

The Stars kicked the weekend off on Saturday night by leaving their fans on the roller coaster that they have inhabited for the majority of the 2016-17 season. After sacrificing four goals to the Minnesota Wild in the first 12:45 of the game, Stars fans were ready to throw in the towel on the game and possibly even season.

Then, something happened. The Stars slowly but effectively clawed their way back into the game against the best team in the Western Conference. Midway through the third period, John Klingberg scored the game-tying goal on the power play and knotted things up at 4-4.

By this point, Stars fans didn’t know what to think. But it didn’t take long for the Stars to deliver a crushing blow as Jason Zucker scored on a deflection after driving to the net. After all that hard work, Dallas lost 5-4.

Then Monday rolled along, and the Stars were back in action up north as they kicked off a three-game road trip in Buffalo against the Sabres. Another slow start gave the Sabres an early advantage, and the sloppy play from Dallas helped Buffalo maintain that advantage.

The Sabres, who were the second worst team in the Eastern Conference heading into the game, ended up cruising past the Stars 4-1.

That’s three L’s taken in three days. That really stinks.

But in the Stars’ case specifically, things are quickly reaching a tipping point. Dallas continues to lose their footing in the playoff race, and the struggles of the other teams in front of them can only last so long. The Stars are supposed to be capitalizing on the mistakes of the opposition, not matching them.

If you rewind to last season, the Stars were able to get away with a poor month like this. Do you know why? It’s because they had a fast start that at one point had them atop the NHL.

This season, that didn’t happen. Instead, the Stars had a slow start and now need a strong finish to counteract it.

Over the course of the first month of 2017, the Dallas Stars are 2-4-1. That means they have secured five of a possible 14 points (36 percent of the possible points).

As you can tell, that’s not what playoff teams do. Playoff teams win and keep themselves in the fight. But from the performances that the Stars have given so far throughout January, it looks as though they are planning on April 8 being the last game of their year.

At this point in the season, the Dallas Stars will have to prove whether they are preparing to shape up or ship out. That is whether they will kick it into high gear or cut their losses and await the 2017-18 year.

With a record of 18-19-8 (44 points) through 45 games, there is not much hope for Dallas. They are still sitting outside the playoff picture. Though the lead that the wild card teams have has not increased significantly, the games in hand that Dallas is giving up are proving to be crucial. Those games do have to be played, after all.

Dallas currently sits four points out of the final wild card spot with a game out of hand and five points out of the first wild card spot with a game in hand. They also have five other teams to worry about that are scrapping for those final two spots.

As it looks right now, the Dallas Stars’ only way to salvage this season is going to be by going on a run. Now it does not have to be a crazy run like the ones that Columbus, Minnesota, and Carolina went on (though if they can do it, why can’t Dallas?).

But a run is necessary. There is no more time for Dallas to continue riding the roller coaster up and down in a win-loss pattern. That trend has to be left behind in the first half of the season. It’s time to make up for those mistakes. That is why there are 82 games after all.

There are a possible 74 points remaining to be picked up in the Dallas Stars’ 2016-17 journey. So even if they went undefeated and won 37 straight, that would put them at 118 points. That’s only nine more than what they ended last season with (oh, how long ago that seems now).

If the math lines up right, the Stars will need somewhere around 50-55 of those points to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs and punch their ticket in. That means winning 25 of the next 37. Now that’s a run.

It may sound impossible when examining how the team has played and faced adversity this season, but it’s the only way Dallas will find themselves back in the hunt for Lord Stanley. They could start it off on a high note tonight against a very good New York Rangers team.

It’s time to shape up or ship out.

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