Despite what some think, Dallas Stars can contend for Stanley Cup

RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA - FEBRUARY 25: Interim head coach Rick Bowness (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA - FEBRUARY 25: Interim head coach Rick Bowness (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /

It’s easy to forget one’s past when dealing with present success. That is readily apparent with some factions of Dallas Stars fans already.

I’ve said it several times in this space before: fans of the Dallas Stars are a skittish bunch. And who can blame us? Ever since an unexpected run to the Western Conference Finals in the spring of 2008, the Stars only made the playoffs in three of the next eleven seasons. To say that we’ve wandered the hockey desert is a bit of an understatement. You’d think we’d be ecstatic about an impending return to the tournament this coming spring.

This isn’t to say I don’t “get it”. The sense of crushing doom seeps in like an old toxic friend after every loss. It’s worse when they lose consecutively to the top two teams in the respective conferences, too. Everyone who cares about this team wants to see them put their best foot forward in these measuring stick games. So when they lose, it can just feel as though they’re inadequate and not ready for prime time.

But let me also play devil’s advocate here. The Stars lost to the Bruins and Blues by a goal on the road. No great crime there. In the case of the game in Boston, it’s fair to say that the Stars at least held their own against the Bruins. A couple of rapid-fire bad breaks swung momentum in second period of that game. But it’s inaccurate to say that Dallas got run out of the rink.

It was more of the same on Saturday night in St. Louis. The Stars battled back from a 3-1 deficit to ultimately tie the game with less than twenty seconds left in regulation on a slick goal by defenseman John Klingberg. Dallas had their chances in the overtime period before finally succumbing to the Blues in a shootout. The loss stung, but it surely could’ve have swung either way.

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Of course, everyone wants to nitpick after losses like these. If you follow along on any number of message boards or social media feeds, a lot of this criticism falls at the feet of interim head coach Rick Bowness. There seems to be a prevailing school of thought that he doesn’t like playing youngsters, a la former head coach Ken Hitchcock. If you look at time on ice among forwards, it’s hard to refute that point, especially in the cases of forwards Roope Hintz and Denis Gurianov. But in listening to Bowness, he acknowledges the discrepancy and swears that he’s trying to remedy that. The overarching fact remains that it’s hard to argue with the results.

Since Bowness took over as bench boss on December 10th, the Stars are tied for third in the NHL with–surprise–the Bruins and the Blues for wins at 21. If you look at total wins since their 1-7-1 start, it’s even more impressive. Dallas is tied at the top of the league with 36 wins. As is the case in all professional sports, winning is the bottom line. In that regard, the Stars’ bona fides match up with any team in the league. Sure, it’s natural to bemoan losses and question a team’s status, but the big picture must also be taken into account.

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So strap in for the ride. The Dallas Stars are holding up their end of the bargain on a nightly basis. Don’t get too high after a win, but more importantly, don’t just throw in the towel after a seemingly huge loss. It’s simply a means to an end. The regular season and the playoffs are two entirely different animals. Just remember that the home team is absolutely built for the postseason.

  • Published on 03/02/2020 at 13:31 PM
  • Last updated at 03/02/2020 at 12:31 PM