With the way Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin have led the Dallas Stars‘ turnaround this season, no one would blame anyone who may have forgotten that last season the Stars were a long cry away from their Stanley Cup winning days.
After finishing dead last in last year’s construction of the Pacific Division, the Stars underwent major franchise reconstruction over the offseason. The organization issued a new logo and uniforms, hired former Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff and participated in one of the most talked about trades of the summer by bringing in Seguin to play alongside Benn in hopes of igniting as many fireworks on the ice as the trade created on the Fourth of July.
Although the Stars’ season has been far from perfect, Ruff has turned this Dallas team into a heavy Wild Card competitor in the Western Conference; if the playoffs were to begin today, Dallas would lock in the second Wild Card spot and face the Conference leading St. Louis Blues. Considering the Stars blanked the Blues in a game earlier this week, the match-up might be more of a battle than year-long statistics would suggest.
Unfortunately, Dallas gave up an early 2-0 lead on Sunday afternoon to eventually fall 3-2 against a struggling Florida Panthers team. The loss still keeps them in the playoff race, but the two points gained had they won would have given them a much more comfortable cushion; the Phoenix Coyotes currently stand only one point behind Dallas.
Despite what may actually happen over the course of this last week of the NHL regular season, the Stars have developed a work ethic this year that proves they are certainly deserving of a postseason run at the Stanley Cup. And even more than deserving, the wins they have pulled through prove they could just be this season’s sleeper force to be reckoned with.