The Dallas Stars have had a common theme since the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Their belief and ‘never give up’ attitude pushed them through loads of adversity on their way to the Stanley Cup Final last season and has kept them alive in the playoff race this season. They have gained a reputation as a team that will not quit. The entire organization believes in what they have, and they will continue to battle until the very end.
They Have All of the Pieces
The Stars truly believe they are a championship-caliber team despite the injuries they are facing. They showed last season that they are capable of making a run even without some of their best players. This season is no different as the losses of Ben Bishop, Tyler Seguin, and Alexander Radulov have not stopped them from staying in the thick of the playoff race.
“We have a group in here that wants it,” Jason Dickinson said. “Nobody here is sitting back and saying `Next season,’ or `We have all these injuries.’ No one is saying that. We want to go for it.”
Even after Bishop and Radulov were ruled out for the season, the Stars responded with two huge wins against Columbus. They believe that the ‘next man up’ can fill in and make a difference. It also helps to know that help is on the way as Seguin inches closer to returning to the lineup.
“I think we have all the pieces here,” Jamie Oleksiak said. “We’re kind of figuring out our game now, and a couple bounces go our way in the OTs and the shootouts, it’s a whole different outlook on the season. I think we’ve just got to stick with it and look at the positives — guys hopefully getting healthy, getting back, will hopefully help us out a lot. I think we’ve just got to keep chipping away at it. We’re turning this thing around, slowly but surely, and I think it’s going to be a good character test for us.”
Every Game is a Playoff Game
After the Stars got themselves into some hot water with their inconsistent play, every game has become vital to their playoff hopes. They believe that they have played better than their record but needed to start collecting points as they were running out of time to turn their bad fortunes around.
“We’re going to have to go on a run here pretty soon,” John Klingberg said a few weeks ago. “It’s frustrating, for sure.”
While none of their games have truly been elimination games, nearly every night feels like it could be.
“We need the win tonight,” head coach Rick Bowness said before their game against Nashville last week. That has been a common theme in pre-game interviews over the last few weeks.
Every game has felt this way as the margin for error has become razor-thin. The Nashville Predators and Chicago Blackhawks have continued to win games, and Dallas knows that just one loss could push them past the breaking point. They responded recently by going 6-2-2 in April, including a current six-game point streak. The gap has narrowed as they are now within three points of the fourth playoff spot with three games in hand on the Predators and two on the Blackhawks.
All 56 Games
It has been said by nearly every player and coach in the organization that they will battle until the very end if that’s what it takes to make the playoffs.
“Listen, if it takes us to the 56th game to get in, then that’s what it’s going to take,” Bowness said. “Everyone is banged up, everyone is tired. We’ve got guys who are hurt, but they’re going to play through it.”
All it takes is one run to change the outlook on the entire season. Just look at the Predators, who were primary deadline sellers before their winning streak vaulted them into a playoff spot. Dallas is on a streak of their own right now, so maybe it is their turn to change the standings.
In this league, anything can happen in the playoffs. The goal during the regular season is simply to get in. The Stars’ ability to battle until the end has been shown late in games and throughout the entire season. They simply do not go away. This ability did wonders for them in the bubble last season, so who says they can’t surprise us again?
Sam Nestler is a Dallas Stars contributor for the ‘The Hockey Writers’. Growing up in New Jersey, Sam has been playing hockey since he was 7 years old. Developing a love for writing in college, Sam uses his hockey knowledge to create analyses and articles on every aspect of the game. Sam also hosts his own podcast on Spotify, the “Slapshot Sammy’ podcast, breaking down action across the NHL and NCAA. Check out the podcast here, and give his latest article a read!