March is one of my favorite months because I am a born and raised Jayhawk. I was filling out March Madness brackets practically before I could walk. And while the Stanley Cup Playoffs are one of the most gut wrenching hardest fought battles in any sport, there’s just something magical about the thrill of a single elimination tournament that is only captured by March Madness.
No other hockey team this year has encapsulated the thrill of victory and anguish of defeat like the Stars, but with so many crazy moments already in this season, how are we to pick the Most Star-like of them all?
Well, we’re not.
You are, in the Why So Star-ious Tournament of Heartbreak and Elation. We have 4 divisions with 16 moments each, seeded by how indicative these events have been of the total season. This is a tournament of feelings – pick with your heart, and may the most Star-ious win!
The Neck Beard Division
In match up one, we have everyone’s least favorite, but most quoted stat: the win % when outshooting our opponent. Everyone knows that we can’t win if we have over 40 SOG, but is that more indicative of our season than when the Bearded Ladies are being psychic and predicting goals (against) on our twitter?
For most teams, a Power Play is a chance to score. Not so for the Dallas Stars, who are 19th in goals scored on the Power Play. At this point in the season, most fans would rather see the boys in green on the Penalty Kill…where we’re first in the league in Shorthanded Goals.
But is that more indicative of the Stars’ crazy season than how the Boston media continues to harp on Seguin and his party boy ways (which Dallas fans haven’t seen), his terrible face off percent (which improved dramatically this season), and his poor defensive play (which…just isn’t true).
Everyone knew the Stars would have an insanely good offense this season, and they did not disappoint. We also knew we weren’t going to be a defensive stronghold, and well, that did not disappoint either. Five games this season have had 10 goals (combined) or more. The only disappointment is that they’re tied for the most goals in a game with the Kings & Predators. Boo, hiss.
On the other hand, in the disastrous recent game against Minnesota, the Pitbull line was stuck on in their own zone for 3.5 minutes without getting off a line change. The Stars gave up 6 goals that game. But not when they were most vulnerable and exhausted, oh no, they would never live down to expectations.
Can you believe that Jamie had never recorded an NHL hat trick until this season? Crazy, but true, and as that’s the theme of the Stars this year, it’s actually becoming more believable by the second. Either way, the captain put the team on his back in a 4-1 rout of the St Louis Blues to earn his first hat trick, and keep them in the playoff race.
Still, in a season of highlight-reel goals, this one of Spezza’s against the Florida Panthers (yes, in that game) might just personify the Stars crazy talented offense this year.
In one of the most confounding stats of the season, the Stars are one of four teams have posted more wins on the road than at home with a 13-14-8 record at home, and a 19-14-2 record on the road. Every other team has 4 or less extra road wins. Dallas has 6. I’ve looked at this extensively to try to figure out if there’s an underlying cause, but frankly, it just doesn’t make sense
At the beginning of February, things looked pretty bleak for the team’s playoff chances. They were out shooting & out possessing their opponents, but nothing was going in the net. Then, on Feb 8th, they played the NY Rangers and barely even touched the puck, putting up a 39% Corsi For 5v5. And won. And then won the next two games to keep us in the race.
But is that more indicative of the Stars’ mentality than the Penguins game at the beginning of the year where they had a goal waved off, only to score two instead? The Stars do so love to be the underdog.
The worst thing for coaches is to try to pull a team out of a slump when they’re playing well, which has been Lindy’s cross to bear this season. How many interviews have we heard him praise our team’s play and still not get the result necessary? Couple that with the games (like the one against the Oilers in December) where they can’t keep the puck, make egregious turnovers, have to put in the back up – and then we win, and you get a very Star-ious result indeed.
On the other hand, Tyler Seguin has been this team’s scoring leader all season, and his 3 week stint on IR hurt them badly. His return to the Stars was heralded with a pair of beautiful goals, including one on the previously lackluster power play, cementing his importance to the Stars’ season.
The final match up today pits one of the most common occurrences in a Stars game this season against one of the least: The No Goal Call against the Non-Regulation Victory. While I don’t have the actual numbers, it feels like the No Goal is deployed in every other Stars game (whether it’s against our boys or against the opponents). It’s ridiculous. You could almost make a drinking game about it. Oh wait. #drink.
On the other hand, the Stars have been taken to overtime or a shootout fifteen times this season already. They have won five. FIVE. The first victory in OT (without going to a shootout) came in February against the Rangers – and it was the first game won in OT since 3/11/14.
Both are crazy, but it’s up to you to decide which brand of crazy is more Star-like.