I believe that no matter how much the Stars fans dislike the Nashville Predators, they cannot help but want to express their gratefulness after tonight.
The Nashville Predators, a team playing for nothing but style anymore, did what many thought they could not do and BLANKED the Coyotes 2-0. This game took all hope PHX had of controlling their playoff destiny and turned it over to the Dallas Stars. We especially owe a huge thank you to Craig Smith and Patric Hornqvist, as well as Pekka Rinne, whose stellar net minding helped to secure Dallas’ seat of power for the moment. This should be a cause for celebration in the streets of downtown DFW because this loss means that Dallas has multiple ways that THEY can clench, while PHX must sit back and hope for a miracle. The Stars magic number now sits at 2. If the Stars can win one game in any fashion, they will bring waters to the land of the 5 year playoff drought. You heard it here first, THEY WILL BE IN (pause for random fits of excitement, I’ll give you a second). The Stars may even go to such great lengths as to losing in OT or a SO to both teams and still make it! The Stars (89 points) hold the tiebreak and will for sure make the postseason unless they find a way to lose both games, While the Coyotes (87 points) must pray for these 2 losses and win their final 2 games to clinch. Anyway you put it, the odds weigh greatly in the Stars favor and this might be a few dedicated male fan’s last night to shave off the facial hair before playoff beard season comes into full swing.
We could very well see the Stars clinch tomorrow night. If they are ready to clinch, which nothing leads me to believe that they haven’t been waiting for this moment for around 1,800 days, here are three tips that would give them the extra edge in their quest for postseason recognition tomorrow night against St. Louis:
1. Use their weariness as an advantage
The St. Louis Blues, though sitting at the top of the conference looking down at us, will be playing tomorrow night still trying to catch their breath. They are coming off a 4-2 (does this score sound familiar?) loss to the Minnesota Wild, a team which they heavily outshot, 45-15! Wow. This can sometimes be difficult for teams to understand and it may take a while for them to recuperate, though they only have around 20 hours and a 4 hour plane ride…. The Stars on the other hand enjoyed a day of rest, something they haven’t seemed to have in a long time. If they can stay consistently aggressive tomorrow night, then they won’t even need to care about PHX on Sunday. Heck they may as well not even show up (please don’t take this literally). Their defense has been hot as of late and their offense still seems to be struggling to find their way. Tomorrow would be the perfect chance to find their shooting lanes against their unavoidable first round matchup, if they can find the postseason lights, and figure out their strategy before the battle even begins.
2. Take down Miller early
An elite goalie troubled by a young group of headstrong and determined kids (and a few old guys). Sounds like the typical hockey movie plot right? I wish. But this is in fact the story for the Stars vs. Ryan Miller. This goalie just can’t seem to ever figure these guys out (this could lead to fantastic things in possibly a week or so). The Stars cashed 4 goals in on him back in October when he was still a member of the lacking Buffalo Sabres (maybe next year guys) and then found a way to tally 3 in an OT win and 4 most recently against him. So things have looked pretty good against him. If they can explode out of the opening faceoff and take the offensive zone by storm, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them leading by 2 or 3 after the first period. The last thing the Stars want though is for Miller to be replaced with Brian Elliot. This guy managed to stop 34 of 35 in his one start against the Stars this year and has shown that he is a force not to be reckoned with. So as long as Miller starts and plays the whole game, the Stars may be able to finally say the word playoffs in the locker room without someone breaking down.
3. Better passing and offense
This might be the easiest task on this article but only they can make it happen. They must do a better job of passing. The last 3 games have been ugly to watch the Stars attempt to pass and miss out on valuable shots on net that could turn in to rebound chances. They had 12 giveaways in the loss to CBJ and might just have completed more passes to CBJ and the boards than to each other. This will be unacceptable play if they can conquer Mount Stanley Cup Playoffs (there must be a better name for it than that) and they will face a clean sweep first round by a pesky St Louis defense if it is not corrected. Their offense needs to find the spark they acquired pregame before Tampa Bay and use it tomorrow. Make Miller earn his paycheck. Good quality shots leads to good quality scores. If these things can happen and the Stars can fire on all cylinders, St Louis will not look near as scary as they sometimes do.
My main point here is that, the floodgates of joy can just about open Stars fans. We are about to experience something that a few young Stars fans have never experienced before, the rush that is attached to the Stanley Cup playoffs. These guys have fought hard and come a long way in the most difficult division in hockey with a young, partial no-name roster. They deserve this and can make it happen tomorrow night (who would’ve thought NSH could do us 2 solids in a span of 2 days?). They need it. They want it. They will have it if they follow the above steps. So now is not the time to sit in the dark and dust off those golf clubs you plan to use over the next 2 months. Now is the time to find those rally towels in the back of your closet and get ready to make the playoffs and face a team that we face tomorrow night as well and have been particularly great against this year. So get ready Stars fans. Not to steal any thunder from the Mavs championship run quotes (maybe good luck?), but The Time Is Now. Good night and Go Stars.