The Dallas Stars start their playoff journey tonight against the Minnesota Wild. It may prove difficult to replicate this season next year, so make sure to take it all in now and savor each memento.
Things are about to get crazy. In just a few short hours, the Dallas Stars will officially kick off their journey in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Stars will welcome the Minnesota Wild to the American Airlines Center in Dallas for games one and two of the first round of what looks to be a promising playoff ride.
It’s interesting to think that 189 days ago, the excursion to get here started for the Stars. Dallas began their 2015-2016 season with one goal in mind: improve from the year before and become a playoff team. Needless to say, they wholeheartedly completed that challenge.
In the span of one year, the Dallas Stars went from a team sitting seven points out of a wild card spot once game 82 finished up to a team sitting atop the toughest division in hockey and the entire Western Conference. All in all, the Stars are a good team, and people now know.
After three years of trial-and-error and building new pieces onto the club’s foundation, Dallas Stars general manager Jim Nill seems to have finally found a combination that works. A lethal offense followed by an improving defense and a goaltending tandem is what he settled on, and the combination produced 109 points and one of the greatest seasons in Stars’ history.
But all of that is in the rearview mirror now. Sure the Stars will be adding Central Division champions and Western Conference champions banners to their rafters when next season begins, but only one banner carries true weight and overarching significance: Stanley Cup champions.
The Stars, unlike some other NHL teams, are legitimate strangers to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. While some teams consistently make the playoffs every year but never seem to go anywhere, like the St. Louis Blues and the Minnesota Wild, Dallas is primarily an outsider to this level of competition.
They have amassed a number of players in the past few seasons with significant playoff experience, but the group altogether has yet to perform under the intense and dramatic lights of the postseason.
That being said, there is no telling what this team is capable of doing this year. Some believe the Dallas Stars have more than enough throttle to push their way to the Stanley Cup Finals and eventually clinch the trophy. Others think that Dallas is doomed because of their style of play or lack of experience as an entire unit, and will more than likely collapse in the first or second round.
However your mind views this scenario, there is a common thread lying within that all Dallas Stars fans should acknowledge. That is the sacredness of the NHL postseason and what it means.
Sure the fact that the Stars qualified means that they are a good team with plenty to offer on the ice. That’s not all there is to it though. If Dallas does get knocked out, then what?
A good chunk of Dallas Stars fans do not know how to answer this question, simply because they have never been in that situation before. If the Stars fall before winning it all, they will move on to the offseason, more than likely make some deals and pick up some new players while shipping others off, and then start fresh on a whole new slate.
That’s where the speculation begins. Will the Stars still be good enough next year to contend for a playoff spot, let alone the Cup? In the past year, five teams that qualified for the postseason in 2015 are experiencing an early offseason this year.
It all contributes to the unpredictability of the NHL. One team can plummet from the top of the standings to the bottom of the pack just as quick as one can go from outside the bubble to inside.
Given that the Stars seem to always be going the opposite way that most assume they would, Stars fans need to appreciate this time. Savor every moment of this magical experience, because no one knows how long it will last or how long it will be until they get to endure it again.
As game one approaches in what Dallas Stars’ fans are hoping will be a long and prosperous journey, make sure to notice everything going on and use each moment for all it’s worth.
So arrive early, wear your victory green, and be loud. But also take it all in and stash it away in the corners of your mind. It will only pay off down the road. Enjoy the evening, Stars fans. Hope to see you at the game, where 19,000+ fans become family in an instant. It’s going to be a good one.