The Dallas Stars are young, dumb and full of good old heart-attack hockey.
And they can smell a postseason berth.
Looking at the schedule, the Stars appear to have the easiest schedule of the three potential wild card teams (Minnesota and Phoenix the others), but there are plenty of teams that could play spoiler down the stretch.
Looking back on the season, it’s a testament to the players and coaches to have even gotten this far in the playoff hunt. Remember that rocky start where it looked like the team might not gel like everyone had hoped? Remember when it seemed like the Stars were never going to win in 2014?
If you don’t, it’s because Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin have erased those stale memories with scintillating goals, leading the team through tough times. Now, they’ve got a view of the horizon.
How they get there won’t rely on offense as much as defense.
Compared to other playoff teams, the Stars are pretty inexperienced on the back end. Goligoski, a Stanley Cup winner with the Penguins back when, anchors the top pairing with Trevor Daley. Gonchar is the second most experienced, but has seen less and less playing time with the improved play of the Dillon-Benn second pairing.
Six D-men and a goalie won’t be enough to finish the job. It’s going to take some forwards to jump in and help clean up the sloppy play when it happens. It’s been pretty obvious this year that the defensemen aren’t perfect, and when they make mistakes it always seems to be in a dangerous area.
When the Stars are winning, they excel at puck support. Two or three forwards will crash the net to block a shot, or support a teammate who just turned the puck over by breaking up a play. When they lose, a lot of times it’s because they were puck watching. The more active the forwards can be in their defensive zone, the less they’ll have to rely on their production on the other side of the rink.
Dallas will really need the extra support on Saturday night in Tampa. The Lightning aren’t a rush or dump-and-chase team; rather, they like to wait to establish possession in the offensive zone and set up grade-A chances between the dots. They feed off of turnovers, and in the first game beat Kari on plays set up by poor puck support and dangerous turnovers.
Indeed the Stars are in a good position to snag the last playoff spot, and as everyone knows very well, anything can happen once a team gets in.