OK, so we've pretty much extinguished any playoff talk with the Stars at this point. In fact, for the first time this homestand, coach Marc Crawford wasn't asked about the playoffs and didn't mention the playoffs at any point after Thursday's 3-2 loss to Philadelphia.
You can tell that the team has adjusted expectations based on the reaction in the locker room Thursday. Basically, it was perceived as a moral victory. The Stars did some good things in this game, yet came out on the losing end. If they were in the playoff hunt, that would be devastating. But since they're not, it was acceptable.
"I hate losing as much as anybody," Steve Ott said. "But when there's pride in losing and character in losing -- that's what tonight was. Every single line I thought played well. ... The goaltender, Kari, played great. The D played good."
Ott is essentially echoing what Crawford has been saying throughout the homestand. The Stars are playing solid hockey, but the scoreboard doesn't always reflect it. They're now 2-6-1 since the Olympic break and have dropped from ninth in the Western Conference standings to 12th.
With 12 games left in the season, Crawford continues to challenge his players to perform at a high level. But now it's not about earning one or two points and trying to move up the standings. The result isn't as important as the effort.
"I thought we needed to have the same effort that we did against San Jose [an 8-2 win], and I think for the most part that we did just that," defenseman Mark Fistric said. "A few bounces didn't go our way, but I don't think we can be disappointed in the way we played."