By Martin Iheke
Ladies and gentleman. After five straight seasons of no playoffs, your Dallas Stars are back in the postseason for the first time since 2008. Thanks to a dominating 3-0 victory over the St. Louis Blues at home on Friday night combined with the Phoenix Coyotes losing at the Nashville Predators, 2-0, the night before the Stars clinched the final playoff spot at 91 points. The most points the Coyotes can have is 91 points but they do not own the first tiebreaker over the Stars because they do not have more regulation/overtime wins. Not a lot of people, myself included, were sure if they could snap their five-year playoff drought at the beginning of the season. We did not know what kind of team they would be. We were not sure of what their philosophy would be. The first month the season was not good. Then things started to change by the second month. They started to find their stride and get on a nice run through the end of the calendar year.
Then things turned ugly again at the start of the new year losing their first six games and went 1-8-1 in a ten-game span. That could have been the time for this team to crater. They did not. They had a nice run before the Olympic break that put them alone for the last playoff spot in the West. They continued their successful play beyond the break until they lost their teammate Rich Peverley. Shortly after that, the Stars lost four in a row and looked like they would fall out of the playoff race again, but a huge home win against the Ottawa Senators last month started yet another nice run for the Stars. At the same time, the Coyotes were completely falling apart losing six in a row putting the Stars in position to clinch their first playoff appearance in six years. For the first time in his young career, Captain Jamie Benn will be playing in the postseason and he talked about that after the game against the Blues.
“It means a lot,” Benn said. “Every kid dreams of playing in the playoffs and trying to win a Stanley Cup. I believe we have a great group and we can do some damage,” as Benn continued.
It did not matter what we thought. It was all about the belief in the locker room. From the coaches on down to the players, they did not give up when things got ugly at times. That is a testament of this team. Head coach Lindy Ruff deserves a lot of credit for keeping this group together when things got bad and having to deal with quite a few injuries, not to mention having such a young team. General Manager Jim Nill also deserves praise for not pushing the panic button when the Stars looked like they would crater back in January. The players should also be credited for sticking to the system no matter what the circumstances were. It is all about the foundation the Dallas Stars are trying to build. Making the playoffs is another piece to building that foundation moving forward. What this team does in the playoffs remains to be seen, but for now we can sit back and celebrate a nice achievement for a team that is trying to make a name for themselves.