The Stars are ending their season on 4 games against utterly beatable teams who are out of the race. Tonight they completed the first of those 4 in a tight game that saw them up 1-0 until the final 50 or so seconds of play. Two empty netters (Loui and Morrow) would make the final score 3-0, but anyone who watched the game know that it wasn’t such an easy victory as some might assume at first glance.
It was a defensive struggle, very few legitimate scoring chances and the Blue Jackets clearly wanted a win regardless of their standings on the season. It may have been a different picture at the end if they hadn’t been so beat up (missing superstar Rick Nash and more). But the Stars would align (pun intended) much like they did against Anaheim, by the end of the game. The third shut out of Lehtonen’s first full season with the Stars and another disallowed goal with 4 minutes left in the game allowed the Stars to get 2 points out of this one and move above the Flames and within striking distnace of both the Ducks and the Blackhawks (who got a point in a 2-1 OT loss to the Canadiens). They will have to take what they can get and keep the idea of “winning out” the rest of the season if they want to make a legitimate attempt at making the post season.
They are going to first have to stop their recent trend of choking against the Avalanche if they intend on doing that. The Av’s seemed poised to become a powerhouse until their struggles this season and the (certain hockey dads call it ill-advised) fire sale that saw them get rid of goaltender Craig Anderson to the Sens and young stars-to-be Stewart and Shattenkirk to the Blues. In a way the idea that the Stars should beat them just makes them more dangerous to a team that has the tendency to play the first half of the game down to their opponents.
Only time will tell as the final 3 games are upon us. Colorado, Colorado, Minnesota and if the hockey gods really want the fallen Stars to make the playoffs we will see the streaking Ducks falter or the defending champion Blackhawks slump at the perfect time. The team seemed destined for things that most didn’t expect from them for the first half of the season… was it destiny, luck or a good team that just doesn’t have the manpower to keep up the pace for an entire season thanks to an internal cap?
We’ll see at the end of the regular season.