Why So Star-ious Tournament of Heartbreak and Elation: The Not-So-Sweet Sixteen

Last week saw the best of college basketball move from a field of 16 to an elite group of just eight. Well, it’s time to do the same for our Why So Starious moments. I hope you have all recovered enough from the last rounds to vote again, because there are some big decisions left.

Voting for this round will close on 3/31, so crack those knuckles and fire up those pointer fingers. You’ve got some polls to fill out!

The Neck Beard Division

When we started this tournament, Dallas was 29th in the league in winning % when they outshoot their opponents. Recently, their good play has put their stats more in line with what you would expect from a club; that is to say, teams that shoot more tend to win more. What has this recent run of good play done for the Stars? Well, they’ve climbed all the way up to….27th.

Whatever you do, Stars, just don’t go past 40.

But is this more fitting with the Stars’ season than one of the most awesome things to happen to a hockey player: his first ever NHL hat trick? That’s right, Jamie Benn scored his first ever NHL hat trick this season in a 4-1 blowout against the St Louis Blues. Jamie was in full-on beast mode, determined to keep his team’s playoff hopes alive, and he hasn’t stopped since. After Saturday night’s win against the Vancouver Canucks, he’s only 6 points out of the NHL scoring lead, and two goals away from another 30 goal season.

The Stars have played pretty dang well against the top teams in the league, much to Pittsburgh’s consternation. Their first meeting in October was a culmination of very Star-ry things. First, Jason Spezza, new to the Victory Green, was eager to score his first goal for Dallas. And he did. Sort of. Because in true Stars fashion, it’s not a game without at least one no goal call, and unfortunately for Spezza, it was his goal waved off. But don’t fear, Stars fans! After all, our boys love playing like the underdogs, and went on to score two more goals, to win the game in regulation 3-2. And Spezza got his first goal against the Flyers, just two nights later.

Still, is that more Star-like than our seeming inability to play disciplined games and win? Especially from Dec-Feb, it felt like we could play a great game, out-possessing, out-shooting, and out-skating our opponents, and then literally the very next night play one of our worst possession games and come up with the win?

I think this is probably the most appropriate theme song for the Dallas Stars play this season:

The Duck Dynasty Division

On 3/3, the Stars played the New York Islanders. The Islanders had been on a roll in the East, and had all but secured a playoff spot. The Stars…had not. In fact, the biggest story of the evening was the return of previously injured player Patrik Nemeth, who hadn’t played in an NHL game since playing the Flyers on 10/18. The plan was to roll 7 d-men deep to shelter the returning rookie, but Daley was kneed by the Isles’s Matt Martin on his very first shift. Who was going to step up and take those minutes? Who could the Stars turn to defensively?

Jordie Benn. You heard me. Jordie Benn played just about the best game of his career. He was strong defensively, had a 62% CF% on the 5v5, and even ate up some special teams minutes Daley would’ve taken otherwise.

And then 1.1 seconds left in the game, the game tying goal goes in off a deflection of his skate.

https://twitter.com/DennisTFP/status/572973293906468865

But is this more indicative of the season than the 2/21 game against Detroit? Dallas is a high scoring team, everyone knows that. The Stars put 6 goals past the Detroit netminders, which should be enough to win ANY game. But this is the Stars, so we know you can never count on that. Detroit manages to score a game tying goal with the extra attacker on ice (even though it was clear Goalie Interference) and then wins it in OT. Dallas loses 6-7. Ain’t that just like us?

In this next matchup, we have the Cinderella story #14 seed taking on a #2 seed. Which one is more fitting with the Stars’ season thus far?

In one corner, we have our rookie defense. No, not our rookie defenseman. Our rookie DEFENSE. Yes, literally half of the defense we’ve played this year is under 60 NHL games played. John Klingberg, who is a Calder dark horse is leading our pack of blueliner rookies with just 59 games. Nemeth, who played 7 games last season, is still only at 25 games total since he was sidelined with injury most of this year. A full 50% of our defensemen have only one season in the NHL. Is it any wonder we’ve had problems this year?

Rookie Defense

In the other corner, we have probably the most talked about storyline of the season. That is of course, how Jamie Benn is best friends/soulmates with Tyler Seguin. It started in the offseason with this ESPN interview, lovingly mocked in our first ever podcast. And that was followed up with this Dude Perfect video of the boys showing off their trick shot skills.  And then even non-Dallas media got in on it as the season progressed, with Mirtle jumping on the Bennguin bandwagon. 

Every Frodo needs his Samwise, and Jamie Benn has found his in Seguin. Or a more apt metaphor the case of these two clowns, every Abbott needs his Costello.

The Supervillain Goatee Division

In everyone’s least favorite division, we have the ultimate match up of throw your hands in the air “I give up!”-ness.

First up, Dallas seems pretty uniquely cursed in the 3rd period. When we started this tournament Dallas was 28th in the league in winning % when going into the 3rd with a lead. What does that mean? It means that we were only 75% likely to win the game if we start the 3rd period ahead in goals. Since the start of the tournament the Stars have gone 8-2-0. All of this winning has been exciting, but what has it done for us in win %? Aw yeah, we’ve jumped all the way up to….27th. SUCK IT FLORIDA.

But is that more Star-ry than the moment everyone really realized the Stars don’t matter to the main stream media? That’s right, on January 4th, the Stars played the Blackhawks, so naturally it was on the NBCSN broadcast. We knew off the bat it would be an interesting game, when the announcers started waxing poetic about Stars Rookie Johnny Klingman. They went on to talk about Dominic Roussel’s energy, and Brad Ritchie’s amazing debut on Dec 31st. Because you know, those are all real players on an NHL team that plays in Dallas.

The worst part: It hasn’t even stopped happening.

And then come probably the two most disappointing events you’ll have to vote on today:

On 2/22 The Stars played the Wild in Minnesota. They had previously humiliated the Wild the last time they met, and it was clear they were out for blood. Sort of clear. Because you can never really tell with Minnesota since they play the most boring form of hockey out there. Through two periods, the Stars held a 1-0 lead, off a power play goal by Spezza. But then the 3rd period started. And so did the Minnesota offense. In the next 20 minutes, 7 goals would be scored. And 6 of them would be by Minnesota. They set a franchise record.

2.22 Third

But is that more Star-ious than the November game against the San Jose Sharks? Tyler Seguin potted three goals for another hat trick, putting him only 1 behind Mike Modano for the all time hat trick leader on the Dallas Stars. Just another record he’s going to break while wearing victory green. No big.

But even with all of that effort….We lost. That’s right. San Jose went on to score 4 goals and an empty netter, beating the Stars in regulation and setting off alarm bells all over Dallas.

The Soul Patch Division

Almost done guys! Only two more match ups to go!

Our last number #1 seed is a doozie – and one Stars fans are intimately acquainted with. It seems like literally every goalie we play these days looks like a potential Vezina candidate. In fact, just 3 days ago, the Stars were shut out by RICHARD BACHMAN. Richard “4th String On The Oilers” Bachman.

RICHARD BACHMAN.

RICH.ARD.BACH.MAN.

If that doesn’t speak to the Stars’ season, I don’t know what does.

Facing off against the #1 is a #5 seed with a lot of heart: those three weeks that Tyler Seguin was out of the line up. Before that “ill timed” hip check by Kulikov, Tyler was in the race for the Rocket Richard and was battling for the top spot in the scoring race. But alas, he went out with an injury in February and then…remained in the top 10 in scoring? Yes, he dropped out for a bit right after he came back thanks to late pushes by other players such as Jamie Benn (#6), but as of last night he was sitting comfortably in the #9 slot again. Not too shabby for a guy who spent half of March walking with a knee brace.

aw shit son

And in the last match up of the day, we have everyone’s favorite on-ice bromance vs the captain bro himself.

Back in January, Jamie Benn was going through a relatively bad scoring slump that had some fans calling for his captaincy. Speculation was that he was passing instead of shooting, mostly because Tyler had such a hot hand early this season. The solution? Break the dynamic duo up. I even wrote an entire article about it (with possibly the best headline I will ever write). And well, Lindy did. For like a period. Total. Because what is Benn without his Seguin? I don’t want to know.

But is that more Star-like than the game against Montreal, where Canadiens Savior, Carey Price, was doing his best stone wall impression? We were down 2-0 going into the 2nd and with 1.7s left. The Stars desperately needed something to reenergize the troops. Enter: Captain Jamie Benn. Jason Spezza wins the faceoff, pass goes right back to #14. And HE FUCKING SCORES. BECAUSE HE’S FUCKING JAMIE BENN.

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