Little by little, shift by shift
In The Playoffs With DotCom
Sunday, 05.18.2008 / 3:36 PM / Feature
By J. Douglas Foster
Since about 10 p.m. Monday night, I can’t imagine Stars fans could have asked for much more.
Placed in a 3-0 hole in the Western Conference Final thanks to a dominant third period by the Detroit Red Wings, hope was, at best, fleeting. The Stars answered questions from the media about just how good this Red Wings team was, and about whether or not it’s the best collection of hockey talent they’ve ever faced.
Kudos were deservedly handed out to Detroit, which had played a near flawless series to that point. But there sat Stephane Robidas, strong in both measurable categories (actual physical strength) and immeasurable ones (will), assuring the microphone-toting vultures that nobody in that locker room had conceded defeat just yet, no matter what the hockey world was thinking.
The jest of the message was this: They’ve beaten us three times, not four. They still have to do it again.
It most likely fell on deaf ears. Players say that all the time, because they have to. They can’t possibly tell their fans they’ve given up, but those words are rarely taken seriously from those responsible for information dissemination.
Who could blame them? How could you possibly think, based on the first three games, that the Stars had any chance of beating the mighty Red Wings four consecutive times?
Well, now they don’t have to. Now, they’ve just got to beat the Red Wings two straight times. We’re not saying they’re certainly going to come back and win this series. But we are saying they’ve doubled the chances of doing so in the last four days.
That’s because since that morose post-game interview session, the Stars have truly stuck to the script often recited by teams fighting out of a hole: Take care of business at home; One game at a time; We can’t win four games in one night; Don’t get ahead of ourselves.
It started with a swelling of team pride in Wednesday’s Game 4, one that ended any thoughts of a sweep. It continued yesterday, when Marty Turco performed a monkeyectomy on his back and did what I promised friends he would do at some point in this series – steal a game, and his timing couldn’t have been better.
Little by little, shift by shift, they’ve done as much as they could possibly do since the unofficial post-mortems were done Monday night. Are they in a position where they can talk about winning the series? Not quite yet. Have they scared the Red Wings at all? Doubtful.
But a win tomorrow night at American Airlines Center, and both of those questions could be answered with a resounding “yes.” Force a Game 7, and we’ve got ourselves a big-time series, one with potentially historical repercussions. Then – and only then – can the Stars and their fans truly talk about a miraculous comeback.
Sure, the Red Wings – like the Stars did after Game 3 – are saying all the right things right now: we’re still in control; we just have to win one game, to their two; it’s not time to panic.
That tune might change a bit, however, should Detroit lose in Game 6. I can guarantee that sphincters will tighten in the Motor City should the Wings have to host a Game 7, no matter how confident the Wings, their fans and media across the country have been in Detroit’s stranglehold on this series.
And that’s where you, the Stars fans, come in.
This is your chance, your shining moment, to make a real difference. Sure, you were noticeably loud in Games 3 and 4, but if you want to help put any doubt in the Red Wings’ minds, you have to make American Airlines Center a dungeon of noise in a critical Game 6. Even more than you did in all four overtimes of Game 6 against San Jose (and no, it didn’t go unnoticed that the lower bowl stood during all four OTs).
Changing this series means making the Red Wings uncomfortable, something they weren’t at any point in Games 1 through 3. The Stars have started making them think a little, rather than just rolling through this round. Make them think a little more about how they are even going to hear each other on the ice, and you could help make history.
Make it loud. Make it obnoxiously loud. Re-define the term “home-ice advantage.” If you do, you might get to watch the Stars play again Wednesday night.
Of course, a win in Dallas still means the Stars must win in Motown – which is never easy to do, much less having to do so twice in less than a week.
But as they say in sports, just get to Game 7, and all bets are off.
Anything can happen.
Do you believe?