It’s not really a stretch to say that the next six games will determine whether or not the Dallas Stars will make the postseason this season.
Over the next couple of weeks, the Stars will square off against five Western Conference opponents, four of whom are above the Stars in the conference standings and the other, the Colorado Avalanche, is right behind by just three points.
And with such a schedule against teams they’re directly competing with for the eight postseason spots in the conference, this is a great opportunity for the Stars to gain ground and get back into the playoff picture.
Currently, the Stars sit 11th in the Western Conference; however, that fact is a little bit misleading. Dallas is sitting on 62 points. Minnesota, who’s in 10th, has 63 points and ninth place Los Angeles is on 64 points, though each of those two teams has a game in hand over Dallas at this point. In eighth place, and in the last wild card spot for the conference, is San Jose has only 66 points and has played two more games, right at the four-point margin Dallas could make up if it were to win those two extra games.
And the Sharks are one of the teams the Stars will play on this latest Western Conference swing. That’s also a big part about why this stretch of games will be so important for Dallas. Among the other teams the Stars will play that are ahead of them are Minnesota, Winnipeg and Anaheim (though since Anaheim is in first its division, they don’t factor in that much). Those games against Minnesota and Winnipeg will be the most important for sure. Dallas has to make sure that it jumps over Minnesota and picking up two more points over division foe Winnipeg would be absolutely huge.
The Stars, though three positions back from making the postseason at this point, have been playing solid hockey as of late as well. Dallas has emerged victorious in four of its last five games, which includes wins at Boston and New York. Goalie Kari Lehtonen has gotten a bit better, getting his goals against average down to 2.83, but he’s still somewhat of a liability. Left winger Jamie Benn is upping his production with 22 goals and 32 assists. Defenseman John Klingberg has burst onto the scene, scoring 10 goals and assisting on 20 more in 43 games after he was a relative nobody coming into the season.
But it’s not all sunshine for the Stars though. For one, the number of games remaining for them to make up the deficit is starting to run out quickly. After tonight’s game, the Stars will have 24 games remaining, which can go by quickly for a team trying to play catch up.
And then there’s the injury to center Tyler Seguin. I haven’t seen the hit he took against Edmonton on Friday night, so I can’t give an honest opinion about whether or not it was a dirty hit, though I’ve heard bad things about it. Still, he’s going to be out for some time and Dallas is going to have to find a way to replace his production night in and night out, which isn’t the easiest thing to do in the world.
But this is the perfect opportunity for the Stars. They come into this stretch with some momentum and they can drastically improve their position in the standings with a successful run.
And it could be the last, best opportunity for Dallas to get itself into the postseason.