Given the shortened season, the race to playoffs is going to change drastically for teams in the NHL weekly if not nightly. Currently, the Dallas Stars hold the seventh seed in the Western Conference. And while the Stars didn’t win both games at home last week, they won the most critical one against the San Jose Sharks. Divisional games carry huge importance this year, more so than in previous years due to the condensed season.
Feb 17, 2013; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Stars left wing Jamie Benn (14) crashes into Calgary Flames goalie Joey MacDonald (35) as defenseman Dennis Wideman (26) defends during the game at the American Airlines Center. The Flames defeated the Stars 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
The Dallas Stars had a few days off to get past their 4-3 loss to the Calgary Flames on Sunday. However, Thursday night proved to be de ja vu as another Canadian team came in and beat the Stars by the same 4-3 score. The Vancouver Canucks broke a 2-2 tie in the third period with two goals in a span of two minutes early in the period, and then they manage to hold off a Stars rally. Each team had fifteen penalty minutes and unfortunately for the Dallas Stars, their power play went cold failing to score once on any of their five power plays. Jamie Benn continued to be a shining star for the team, scoring his fifth goal of the season. His importance to the team speaks for itself by the way he plays. No doubt Benn deserved a new contract and the Stars were right to give it to him.
Benn was at it again for the Dallas Stars Saturday night against the San Jose Sharks. He scored his sixth goal of the year with under three minutes to play in the third period to put the game 3-1. The power play unit found their groove scoring twice and things were a bit chippy between the two teams. Each team had twenty-one penalty minutes and it was an awfully busy night for the Stars penalty kill. Seven times the Sharks had a power play; the Stars stopped them six times. That’s not bad at all given how much the team was out on the ice. The Sharks are really struggling as of late after that hot start they got off to at the beginning of the season. They trail the Stars by one point with nineteen.
Feb 23, 2013; Dallas, TX, USA; San Jose Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle (22) and Dallas Stars right wing Michael Ryder (73) fight for the puck during the second period at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Benn hasn’t been the only Star to shine as of late, especially Saturday night. Michael Ryder has six goals this year, including one against the Sharks. Jaromir Jagr scored his fifth goal of the year Saturday and has 13 points total (5 goals, 8 assists). So Benn isn’t doing it alone, but he is the leader of this team and is tied with Jagr for the most points on the team. If these guys can continue to play like they have been and contribute on a regular basis, the Dallas Stars will make the playoffs. They just need a little more consistency in net and it will really help if Kari Lehtonen can stay healthy.
The Stars capped their week off with a 5-4 overtime loss to the Nashville Predators despite scoring four second period goals. Two of those goals came on the power play. And the overtime period ended almost as quickly as the puck dropped with Nashville’s Roman Josi scoring his second goal of the game 28 seconds into the overtime session. Just like that, the Stars opportunity to win was gone though they did gain one point.
With the Stars going 1-1-1 this week, their record now stands at 9-8-2, good for twenty points. Three games on schedule this week and the Stars need to find ways to get some points to maintain playoff positioning.
Tuesday, February 26: @ Columbus 7:00 PM ET/6 CT
Thursday, February 28: VS Edmonton 8:30 PM ET/7:30 CT
Sunday, March 3: VS St. Louis 3:00 PM ET/2 CT
While the Dallas Stars don’t play any divisional games this week, it is important that the Stars take care of business and defend home ice. A bad week can put a team on its heels and fighting an uphill battle for a playoff spot, something the Stars do not want to do. The games this week are definitely winnable. How it all goes though is written in the stars.