The Dallas Stars (and Mavericks for that matter) have gone from being tops on the "A" list to hanging with Kathy Griffin.
Dallas got hot right around and after the trade for Brad Richards, they got Phillip Boucher back into the lineup, and were screaming along just three points behind Detroit for best record in the league. The special teams were scoring, Marty Turco was sharp in net, and life was grand. Then the Stars hit this patch of schedule when they play one to two games a week.
Dallas cooled off, and had three to five games in hand over San Jose and Anaheim. So while the Stars players were sitting idle, their opponents kicked it into gear and won those games, and went on nine to ten game winning streaks. As it stands, Dallas has six games remaining - all against Pacific Division opponents, and they can't even beat the worst team in the conference - the Kings... at home.
Houston, we have a problem.
I'm not confident Dallas (either the Stars or the Mavs) will even make the playoffs at this point. It's hard to stay sharp and keep your game going when you have as much down time as this team does right now. Coach Tippett said as much last week that it's hard to keep a rhythm when you're only playing every three or four days.
Brad Richards has shown a penchant for playoff scoring, but if the rest of the team isn't playing to support him, and not playing sixty minutes of hockey - which has been the trend, the trade will go for naught. I'm still regretting letting Mike Smith go. Dallas has a history of producing good back-up netminders, only to let them go and they become successful starters in other markets.
I don't care who this team faces in the playoffs. Right now I'd put odds against them if they were playing a local high school team. Cornerstone players - Mike Modano, Sergei Zubov, Jere Lehtinen, and Marty Turco - will be another year older and are wearing down physically. Dallas has gone from legitimate contender to has been. They're about as much a threat to win the Stanley Cup as Ron Paul is to winning the presidency.
Regardless, unless the team finds its game again, and quick (and against teams ahead of it in the standings), Dallas is looking at being on the road for the first round of the playoffs. I wouldn't expect better than a seventh or eighth-place finish, putting them in the Shark Tank or Detroit for the first-round exit and dusting off of the golf clubs.
That being the case I fully expect the Stars will have a new head coach next year, among other faces... Where's Ken Hitchcock when we need him?