Wednesday, March 09, 2011

The Marathon

I don't know if you have ever run a marathon, or for that matter, ever attended one. A marathon is 26.2 miles and is the type of event that pushes most humans to the brink of exhaustion. The great part of a marathon is that it requires you to ask questions of your body that neither you nor your body have ever considered. It makes you dig deeper than you ever imagined possible.

In the marathon setting, though, they always tell you that you are going to be able to achieve more because unlike your training runs, in a marathon you will feel a surge from the spectators urging and encouraging you on with their voices. And on race day, it is true. In training, you can barely run 20 miles. But, when the race is going on, the momentum from the setting pushes you along the course. Not saying it is easy to run the 26th mile, but you are able to make it with the help of the crowd.

Hopefully, by now, you can figure out where I am going with this blog.

The Stars have done things this season that I did not believe that they were capable of. When the Stars players mention those "who doubted them" coming into this season, I am included in this group. But, they have turned me. They have convinced me that this team will not go quietly into the night.

They have resolve. They have grit. They have determination.

The road trip they just completed seems legendary. Each of the 4 games had moments where you wanted to spring off your couch, pump your fist, and try not to wake up the family. Why was the family asleep? Because many of the biggest moments happened after midnight Central time. Darn that Pacific Division schedule.

Regardless, whether it was Jamie Benn's many moments of brilliance or Alex Goligoski's breakout, or Kari Lehtonen making sure the Stars remain in the game, the Stars did everything in their power to remain in the playoff hunt and right behind San Jose in the division.

Honestly, it would have been easy to leave them for dead after the plane landed from Vancouver on the last trip where they lost every game they played.

But, that didn't happen. The first day back in Dallas saw Joe Nieuwendyk make a trade that initially annoyed some of his fan base, but hopefully by now, nobody requires any more convincing about what a perfect fit Goligoski seems to be on this squad that did not have what he brings to the party. His composure and creativity with the puck from the blueline causes many to remember a certain Russian Defensemen from a few years back.

The next day, Jamie Benn returned to the lineup for the first time in a month. His shoulder injury knocked him out of the mix, but the layoff obviously gave him fresh legs and a renewed energy reserve. Not only has he been the best player on the roster during this trip, but I wonder if you could make a strong argument for best player in the league over the last week. I have to think so.

Then, 2 days later, Adam Burish and Krys Barch were back in the mix, too. Let's not underestimate adding back some abrasive and difficult-to-deal with players to the group.

Adding Goligoski, Benn, Burish, and Barch - but not the long-awaited returns of Brad Richards and Nik Grossman - has set the team back on the proper path. Even the most optimistic surely did not expect 11 out of a possible 12 points since all of this pieces were put back in place.

Now, back to my marathon thought.

So, these guys have 66 games behind them. 16 to go to the conclusion of the season. The bruises have added up. The ice packs have been applied.

But, I think they can use a little help.

Now, by brilliant deduction, I am going to assume that anybody reading a column from me on is likely so inflicted with Stars fever right now that they don't need convincing. But, with a 7 game home-stand starting tonight, I actually am more worried about the crowd doing their part than the team on the ice doing theirs.

At times this season, the AAC has not resembled a loud and alive arena. At times, the crowds have been way down and have not impacted the momentum of the team at all. For the first time in a long time, you could make the case the Stars have not experienced much of a "home ice advantage".

Well, that is water under the bridge.

It is mile 22. The team needs a surge for this homestand. They have done their part to earn the undivided attention of the city's fans, and they need to hear the city's voice.

Not sure if you can get to a game during this stretch. But, if you are on the fence, you need to do it. This is a team worthy of your discretionary spending. And, they can use your help.

They have had every excuse this season not to perform. Nobody would have blamed them if this season ended in tears. But, obviously, there is too much pride in that room to take the easy way out.

They want the post-season.

Help them get there.

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