It’s tough to pick one particular low point for the Stars this year — there have been a bunch — but it’s fair to suggest Thursday’s 7-3 blowout loss at home to Nashville is right up there (or down there, I guess).
The Preds raced out to a 4-0 first period lead, chasing Antti Niemi in the process. Kari Lehtonen came in and allowed five goals on 21 shots, including the seventh, which bounced in off d-man John Klingberg and led to Lehtonen smashing his stick in frustration:
Speaking of frustration, check out what Klingberg had to say in the aftermath. From the Dallas-Morning News:
On the start to tonight’s game:
“I think we gave them the game. It’s just embarrassing. From the first shift we were not in the game at all. The whole first period was just embarrassing. We came back in the second and did pretty well, but it was the same thing. We let those easy opportunities slip in there and it’s just how the season has been. It’s been pretty frustrating.”
On if frustrations from the whole season culminated tonight:
“Maybe, but we have to stay professional. This is embarrassing. This is our own arena and we are playing in Dallas, it should be way better than this. There are no excuses for this one. It was just really bad. Terrible.”
On playing for the fans in the last game of the season on Saturday:
“That’s what we need to do. We wanted to do it today too, but, like I said, we have to stay professional and play for the fans. It’s going to be the last game of the season. This was the second to last game and we can’t put up a game like this in our own arena. We are going to lose people coming to the games and it’s not good at all.”
As those words suggest, the season has been a huge disappointment. The Stars haven’t just failed to live up to last year — when they won 50 games and advanced to the second playoff round — they’ve almost completely bottomed out, and won’t even crack the 80-point plateau after racking up 109 in ’15-16.
Klingberg alluding to possible attendance problems is interesting. The numbers are down, albeit slightly — Dallas currently sits 16th in the NHL in attendance (18,090) after finishing 15th last year (18,376). In terms of the big picture, this is the seventh time in the last nine campaigns that Dallas won’t be in the playoffs. That’s not good.
This was also a wasted season for the dynamic Tyler Seguin–Jamie Benn duo. Seguin will be 26 next season, Benn 28, and while they’re hardly long in the tooth, these are also considered “prime” years for both.
The Stars do have a final shot at ending the year on a positive note. They’ll host Colorado at American Airlines on Saturday in their season finale.