Now that Anaheim, Nashville and Phoenix have clenched their playoffs for the season, it comes down to the final game of the season for two teams…
Chicago and our beloved Dallas Stars. On the 82nd game of the season, the Stars are going head to head with the Stanley Cup Champions for the 8th and final playoff spot in the Western Conference and it is a surprise any way you look at it. For one, I don’t think anyone though Chicago would struggle this heavily just to make the playoffs. On the other hand at the beginning of the season nobody really saw the Stars in the playoff race at all at this time of the year. Then about half-way through the season everyone thought they were a lock for a playoff spot as they lead the Pacific Division for a majority of it.
And now they are sitting on the outside looking in, Chicago holds the 8th place seed and we will all know before the final game on Sunday whether or not the boys have a chance or not. Here’s the scenario… Chicago has to lose in regulation, Dallas has to win in regulation or overtime (no Shoot-outs allowed, win or lose as it would ruin the tie breaking OTW column for the Stars). So, while we all root for Detroit for the first time in our life, we get to look forward to what could be the best game of the season should Chicago do what we need them to do. An apocalypse on ice against the only real rivals we’ve had over such a long span. I think we all can safely say that unless the sky caves in and pours fluke all over Minnesota, the Stars will probably play so vigorously for the final spot, that they will almost assuredly win the game. The catch, obviously is that they will know before the game even starts if they are playing for such a chance or not.
So, fans. Here’s a toast to the regular season in all of its inconsistently consistent glory. Here’s to Ribeiro for swallowing his pride in the shadow of Brad Richards to play like the first rate assist-machine he is. Here’s to Jamie Benn for taking the team on his back when it seemed like all of the scorers were getting concussed. Here’s to Brendan Morrow for reminding us of why he was given the “C”. Here’s to Otter for all of the laughs. Here’s to Loui for giving us an all-star worthy effort. Here’s to Mr. Burish for giving the team some heart. Here’s to Joe Neiuwendyk for proving everyone wrong. And here’s to next season, no matter how this one ends… a new season with owners… with cap space… with a renewed Richards contract… and a whole lot of Dallas Stars fire.
Because, if they lose they are one step away, one roster move away, from being the Pacific Division powerhouse. If they win, they are the team to beat this year. Either way, the Dallas Stars aren’t the team they were the last two seasons, I think everyone but the cynics can agree to that. And even I’ll push all the depression of another playoff-less year aside to drink to that.