The Dallas Stars once again came up short when it mattered most on Sunday afternoon in Nashville. Their lack of consistency has them pinned outside the playoff picture with nowhere left to go.
Before you read this article, get all of your anger out. You have probably bottled it all up overnight and need to vent a little. So put your phone, tablet, or laptop down and take a second to kick the wall.
Feel better now? Maybe just a little bit? You have every right to be frustrated, don’t worry.
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Last night, the Dallas Stars did the unthinkable when they somehow squandered a three goal lead and lost a game that meant more than any other had up to this point in the season. They lost 5-3 to the Nashville Predators after leading 3-0 at one point and dropped two of the most crucial points this season.
“I don’t know what to say,” said Stars captain Jamie Benn after the loss. Sadly, I don’t think anyone does at this point.
After every loss, it’s the same responses. “We didn’t play good enough,” or “I’m sick of playing well and losing.” Time after time, yet nothing seems to change. It’s becoming a problem.
And now it’s a problem that has Dallas pinned behind the eight ball. With yesterday’s loss, the Stars now sit six points out of the final wild card spot with two games out of hand. Not the ideal situation by any means.
I’ll give you another moment to vent your frustration if you need it.
Okay, back to my main point.
Of the Dallas Stars’ 25 regulation losses this season, a good majority of them have been spawned because of one deficiency: not playing 60 full minutes. It’s been on and off in spurts, but rarely has Dallas given 60 hard and energy-filled minutes and come up without two points.
Take the game against the Carolina Hurricanes this past Saturday for example. The Stars jumped out to an early 3-0 lead, but unlike the 3-0 advantage they had on Sunday, they actually kept it intact. While the Stars did take their foot off of the accelerator a little bit, they remained in dominant control and always answered the Canes’ attacks with one of their own.
They were overbearing on offense, strategic on defense, and received an exceptional performance from Kari Lehtonen in net.
That’s how you win hockey games. Strong efforts from all three sides and constant energy. No breaks and no regressions.
But, as we all know, these Dallas Stars are still going to try and find a way to dig themselves out. If they can string together four or five straight wins, they could quickly find themselves right back in the mix. That seems to be much easier said than done, though.
Last year, it was almost a regular occurrence for Dallas to string together five victories and ten points every so often. This year, they cannot even get over the three-in-a-row hump. If they haven’t gotten over it yet and they are already 57 games in, is there really any hope that they ever will?
In order for there to even be a chance of that happening, the Dallas Stars must learn replication. In other words, they have to learn how to hit the “copy” button and duplicate their performances.
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Over the past month, they have done a good job at playing a strong brand of hockey. They’ve had some mistakes that have cost them dearly, but it’s clear that the Stars are playing with a new level of vigor now.
That game on Saturday is a good baseline example of how the Stars need to play. If they can match that level on a nightly basis, they could be back on the bubble before the end of February. It’s not an insurmountable lead by any means, but it can be for a team that is not willing to give the necessary push.
It’s going to take some serious motivation, determination, and some looking in the mirror to make it happen. The Stars have proven this year that they can still win games in dominant fashion against good teams, but they have yet to crack the secret to making that a repetitive theme. That has to change starting tomorrow in Winnipeg.
But that’s only if they figure it out. Dallas knows how they need to play to win games, they just aren’t doing it. That’s a real problem with the playoffs slipping further and further away with each passing game.
Let go of your frustrations one more time and then get to your Monday activities. The Dallas Stars have their backs against the wall, and it doesn’t look like they want to leave the wall anytime soon.