The Dallas Stars found the perfect way to end the biggest night of their regular season.
It is hard to imagine playing one of the biggest games of the season after a ceremony to retire the jersey of the franchise’s most decorated and accomplished player. The Stars managed to perhaps draw inspiration from the historical event as well as the energy from the most raucous crowd the American Airlines Center has housed all season.
After an elaborate and emotional ceremony to retire Mike Modano‘s number, the Stars faced the task of hosting the Minnesota Wild in a critical game for both teams’ playoff hopes. The Wild and Stars occupy both of the Wild Card positions in the Western Conference and are fending off four teams. A win for the Stars would provide some much-needed cushioning in the standings as well as continued momentum after a big win two nights before.
Again, the Stars have been plagued by slow starts and sloppy play recently, but for the second game in a row, they came out with a fury. The past two games have been their most important games of the regular season so far, and both times they stepped up with quick, solid starts and early leads. The preparation by coach Lindy Ruff and his staff and the leadership of captain Jamie Benn have really shown up in the last two games.
When it mattered the most, the Stars showed up and displayed what they are capable of. Even though the power play struggled all game long, the Stars scored a timely goal on the man-advantage to tie the game. Even though their starting goalie, who has carried the team the past four seasons, went down with an injury, they battled back to pull out a win.
Despite leading twice in the game, they fell behind in the third period, but rallied for a late 5-4 victory and two crucial points in the standings.
The Stars maintained their style of play whether they had the lead or were trailing. They stayed committed to team defense and providing puck support at both ends of the ice. The resiliency of the team was on full display, and it bodes well as they head down the final stretch of the season.
The win, and the night as a whole, demonstrated the Stars’ commitment. They are committed to remembering the past and striving to replicate it in the future. They are committed to each other, to playing a team game and working together to achieve success. They are committed to their style of play.
Over the past few seasons, they showed wavering confidence in the team’s identity and systems. The dark cloud of ownership and financial problems affected to the team on and off the ice. They seemed distant from their past and pushed forward as individuals rather than a collective unit. It all seems to be coming together for the Stars and at a perfect time, too.
Whether they make the playoffs or not this season, they have established an identity and taken big strides to their future. On a night when the franchise’s glory days of the past were remembered and honored, the Stars showcased the exciting and bountiful potential the future has in store.