Dallas Stars: the spectacular collapse is almost complete

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 20: Goalie Kari Lehtonen
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 20: Goalie Kari Lehtonen /

While the slimmest of mathematical chances remain, the Dallas Stars’ fall from playoff contention is historic and unprecedented.

February 9th was a heady time for the Dallas Stars. They’d just come off an emotional, up-and-down shootout win over the two-time defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins.

The victory capped a five-game winning streak. Furthermore, the win firmly positioned the Stars in the Western Conference playoff picture. Not only would they make the playoffs, they would be a very difficult out.

It’s hard to believe, but in the span of a little over seven weeks, everything has changed. The Dallas Stars inexplicably messed themselves and posted a dreadful 7-12-4 record. They went from legitimate Western Conference dark horse contender to also-ran. The “highlight” of this downturn was a horrific eight-game losing streak that drove the final nails in the coffin.

Now, for an organization with such a shaky postseason history lately, you might think this has happened before. Well, you’d be wrong. Sure, they’ve faded down the stretch in seasons past, but a meltdown of this proportion is freakish. To be sure, I’ve racked my brain trying to think of anything resembling the slow-motion train wreck we’re currently experiencing.

Well, the answer was put into crystal clear focus by The Athletic’s Don Luszczyszyn. The site itself is a pay site, so I’ll try to sum it up as best I can for free right here. In his article, he explained that, as of March 5th, the Dallas Stars had recorded 80 points over the 66 games they had played to that date. Their chances of making the playoffs stood at 80 per cent. So far, so good, right?

It only gets morbidly depressing from there, though. Luszczyszyn further elaborates that, since the 2005-06 season, there have been 101 teams with 80 points or more after 66 games. All of them made the playoffs.

Let that sink in for a minute. Every last one of those teams made the postseason. The Stars are about to be the only anomaly for a statistic that dates back to the dawn of the salary cap era.

For all their damning history through the past ten years, this season’s death spiral into futility is a new low. Of course, the fact that we’re one year into the Ken Hitchcock experiment doesn’t help matters at all.

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All things considered, this was supposed to be a renaissance year for this once-storied organization. And for a while, they looked on schedule and in great shape.

But the end result surely creates more questions than answers. Does the front office pull the plug on Hitchcock altogether? What about Tyler Seguin? Next year is his walk year, and frankly, his trade value will never be higher than it is now.

Various fan pages and forums don’t like that notion at all, but the simple fact is that it’s not working as presently constructed.

For those of us who follow this team closely, the coming offseason will see some interesting changes. From the General Manager on down, a large measure of heat will be felt, and rightly so. There simply isn’t any excuse for this team’s swoon.

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The fans have been sold a bill of goods that the front office continually fails to make good on. This cannot continue to be the case moving forward.