Dallas Stars fans knew this was a big week for the team. With the division race so tight, the Stars had no room for error. The Canada trip loomed large. They succeeded in their last trip to Canada, giving Stars fans hope that this trip would be just as successful. Unfortunately, the Stars ran into a fate other teams have experienced on the Canadian road trip. And now it has put their playoff lives in serious jeopardy.
The Stars lost a close one against Calgary to start the road trip off on Monday, losing 5-4. The second period was the undoing of the Stars. They allowed four goals in the period and could not overcome the deficit, despite a third period goal by Philip Larsen. Kari Lehtonen did not look sharp, giving up five goals for the first time since January 3 against Detroit. Allowing three power play goals didn’t help either. Perhaps that should have been the sign for Stars fans that this week would not be pleasant.
The Stars rebounded nicely with a 3-1 at Edmonton on Wednesday, a team that they were expected to beat. Friday, Vancouver roughed the Dallas up, beating the Stars 5-2. That was somewhat expected. After all, the Canucks are one of the best teams in the NHL. There is no shame in losing to one of the best, but the Stars desperately needed to beat one of the best to get their confidence up.
With the tough Canada trip finished, the Stars still had one more game against the division rival Sharks in San Jose on Saturday; the Stars flopped, losing 3-0. They looked tired, and uninspired. This was a huge game for the Stars and they failed miserably. When the week ended, the Stars had lost their spot in the playoffs, looking up at the Sharks, Phoenix Coyotes and Pacific division leading Los Angeles.
Once again, the power play unit was abysmal. The Dallas Stars’ power play is ranked dead last in the NHL.
To make matters worse, the Stars are only average in all the other major categories.
Their official rankings:
- Goals Per Game: 2.5 (19th)
- Goals Against 2.6 (14th)
- Penalty Kill 83.2% (11th)
With play like that, they are not going to make the playoffs.
Western Conference Standings (standings through Sunday night)
- Vancouver 107 pts. 49-21-9 (79 games played)
- St. Louis 106 pts. 48-21-10 (79 games played)
- Los Angeles 91 pts. 39-27-13 (79games played)
- Detroit 99 pts. 47-27-5 (79 games played)
- Nashville 98 pts. 45-26-8 (79 games played)
- Chicago 98 pts. 44-26-10 (78 games played)
- Phoenix 91 pts. 39-27-13 (79 games played)
- San Jose 90 pts. 40-29-10 (79 games played)
- Dallas 89 pts. 42-32-5 (79 games played)
- Colorado 88 pts. 41-33-6 (80 games played)
- Calgary 86 pts. 35-29-16 (80 games played)
The Dallas Stars have three games left to qualify for the NFL Playoffs.
- Tuesday, April 3 VS San Jose 8:30 PM ET
- Thursday, April 5 @ Nashville 8:00 PM ET
- Saturday, April 7 VS St. Louis 8:00 PM ET
Tonightis a great night to get revenge on the Sharks. Win the game, and the Stars can re-claim a playoff berth, for now anyway. Both teams should be fired up to play as they continue to battle for their playoff hopes. The Stars need a packed arena to come support them in their quest.
Thursday will be far more difficult. The Predators are a very good team, currently in fourth place. With the Red Wings and Blackhawks right behind them, they need to keep winning. Unless they are locked into the four or five seed by Thursday night and a matchup with either the Red Wings or Blackhawks is set, expect the Predators to come out with their “A” game as they try to defeat the Stars.
Saturday will be interesting. The Blues may have the first or second seed in the West locked up by Saturday, and therefore they may not have anything to play for. Why risk injury? Stars fans will be hoping and praying the Blues keep some of their better players out as healthy scratches. If they do, the Stars should win and be in position for a playoff birth.
Let’s take a look at the schedule for the teams that the Stars are fighting with for a playoff spot:
**Editor’s note: the Kings were playing the Edmonton Oilers at the time this post was submitted.**
Los Angeles: VS Edmonton (Mon), VS San Jose (Thu), @ San Jose (Sat)
Phoenix: VS Columbus (Tue), @ St. Louis (Fri), @ Minnesota (Sat)
San Jose: @ Dallas (Tue), @ Los Angeles (Thu), VS Los Angeles (Sat)
The team with the most difficult schedule appears to be San Jose, but they also have the most talented roster out of any of the four teams. As much as the Stars would love to win the division, they will be Kings fans this week, hoping that they beat the Sharks. Then again, should the Stars beat the Sharks tonight, then they’ll have the upper hand on the Sharks for the division battle and the playoffs, so they’ll cheer for San Jose. Phoenix and Los Angeles appear to have the most favorable of the schedules, though it’s not by a lot. This is one heated race that will come down to the final day, Saturday.
Fans from all four teams will be sweating, knowing that one of the teams from the Pacific Division will be joining the Anaheim Ducks as they watch the playoffs from their couches. Let’s hope it’s not the Stars and we’re previewing the Stars playoff matchup next week. Their playoff fate has come down to the last week of the regular season, and that fate is written in the stars.