Let's open with a motivational quote from Yoda:
``Do, or do not...There is no try.''
As tough as it is for the Stars to hear right now, a good effort and hard work aren't enough. At a time like this, they either win or they don't. And more often than not lately, it has been don't.
After a 4-2 loss in Nashville on Saturday, Dallas is now 1-3-2 in its last six games. That's four out of a possible 12 points, and that is not good enough. Nashville has gone 6-0-0 in that span and gained 12 points. Anaheim
is 5-1-0 in its last six. Los Angeles is 4-1-1. And included in each of those is a win over the Stars.
You can't get a much more honest read on who is earning a playoff spot and who is not than that right there.
The Stars clearly are trying very hard, but they are starting to remind me of the Edmonton Oilers teams that Stars used to routinely face in the playoffs back in the 1990s. Those Oilers teams were always scrappy, always fought
hard and always played exciting games.
And they almost always lost when it came down to the end.
The sad thing is that while the Oilers fans were always surprised by the losses, the Stars fans were not. They pretty much came to expect that result from the Oilers. And you hope that's not what's happening to the Stars.
On Wednesday, Dallas complained about an unfortunate bounce off the skate of a referee on an Anaheim goal that tied the game in the final six seconds.
On Saturday, coach Marc Crawford and captain Brenden Morrow each mentioned how choppy the ice was at the end of periods, and how it made it difficult to control the puck on a late power play with a chance to tie the game.
You don't doubt either claim. but you also realize that Anaheim has had its share of bad breaks in games and has found ways to drag out points...you realize that Nashville had legitimate claims on two penalties (one a non-call
that led to a goal, and one a call that led to the last power play) that could have been deemed questionable. But the Ducks didn't have to talk about bad breaks or explain why things didn't go right. The Predators didn't have to point out that they received
some bad officiating.
That's how the old Stars were after series wins against the Oilers. The bad breaks just faded into obscurity, because the only thing that mattered was the win.
Right now, the Stars have to face the inner discussion of why they can't make the right play at the right time, why they have hiccups (as they did at the start of the second period) who was at fault for this goal or that.
It's what happens when you don't win games, and it can tear a team apart. That's one of the reasons they are trying to stay positive...because they don't want to start sniping at each other.
And, truth be told, they still control their own destiny. The Kings lost leading scorer Anze Kopitar to a broken ankle on Saturday. Add that to the earlier loss of Justin Williams to a dislocated shoulder, and Los Angeles
could be in trouble. That said, the Kings are six points in front of the Stars with seven games left, so they have built some wiggle room there.
Chicago could be in trouble, too. The Blackhawks lost to Anaheim on Saturday and they sit just two points in front of the Stars with eight games remaining. The problem there is they hold pretty much every tie-breaker on Dallas,
so the Stars pretty much are three points back. That's the same with Nashville and Anaheim. You can't just tie those teams, you have to be a point better.
San Jose (97 points) is pretty much out of reach. So is Phoenix (93 points). Los Angeles (92 points) and Nashville (92 points) are pushing the window of gone.
That means that it probably comes down to one of Anaheim, Chicago and Dallas missing the playoffs, and the Stars have the inside track on ending up without a chair.
The Stars have two days off where they will rest on Sunday and then practice in Frisco on Monday. Then, they head off on a four-game trip through Phoenix, San Jose, Los Angeles and Anaheim _ a trip that netted seven out of
eight points a few weeks ago. If they duplicate that feat, all will be well and we will marvel at that feat. If not, then the end of the season could provide the kind of analysis this team would prefer to avoid.