All right, Stars fans. I’m told when eight teams are left in March Madness it’s called the “Elite Eight” (because the sports world is obsessed with alliteration). I’m not really feeling the elite moniker, so how about the Enduring Eight. As in, we’ve endured both this season and this tournament thus far.
No one’s going to hire me to market anything, I’m aware.
Voting for this round ends Friday morning at 9 am (Dallas Stars time) so make with the clicking on the polls, friends!
Neck Beard Division
The finalists in the Neck Beard Division are a hilariously star-ry mix of a thing that makes me really happy pitted against a thing that makes me really sad.
Hockey players like scoring goals, right? So one of the most awesome things to happen to a hockey player is 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 Monday night’s game against the Calgary Flames (boo hiss), he’s only 5 points out of the NHL scoring lead, and two goals away from another 30 goal season.
Still, is our fearless leader netting that first hat trick more star-ry 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?
Duck Dynasty Division
I don’t like remembering this one, but you guys like voting for it. And it is really a microcosm of our season thus far, so I do understand.
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.
Pitted against this is a much happier thing to think about, but is it as star-ry? Hockey media is really selling the storyline of Jamie Benn being 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.
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.
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, seven goals would be scored. Six of those goals would be scored by Minnesota. They set a franchise record. Isn’t that nice?
But is that more Star-ry than the moment everyone really realized the Stars don’t matter to the mainstream 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.
Soul Patch Division
Our last match up contains one of the most truly depressing and deflating aspects of the Stars season thus far (and since we only have five games left let’s just say “of the Stars season period.”). 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. The back up’s back up’s back up.
If that doesn’t speak to the Stars’ season, I don’t know what does.
But is that star-ier than another occurrence of the 14/91 bromance in the tournament? 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. Carolyn even wrote an entire article about it (with one of the best headlines on Two Bearded Ladies). And well, Lindy did. For like a period. Total. Because what is Benn without his Seguin? I don’t want to know.