After an A+ offseason, the Dallas Stars will head into the 2015-16 with lots of confidence. Patrick Sharp, Johnny Oduya and Antti Niemi are all new pieces to the team that will certainly make them better. However, every team goes through a few tough stretches every season. Let’s take a look at three very important stretches for the Stars in the upcoming season:
December 19th – December 27th
Besides an early stretch of 4 games at home then 4 games on the road, December will bring the Stars their first real test. From December 19th to December 27th, the Stars will play 5 games, including two sets of back-to-backs. They will face opponents by the likes of Montreal, Minnesota, Chicago and St. Louis.
Other than the opponents, the thing that makes this stretch so difficult is that fact that they are never in one place for more than a game. They alternate between home and away games throughout the nine days that this stretch lasts. The last back-to-back features both games against the Blues meaning a trip from Dallas to St. Louis overnight.
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Also, besides Montreal, the Dallas Stars usually have very physical, emotional games against these teams since they are all in the Central division. Though this will be roughly halfway through the season, this set of games is going to be important because it will provide a good sample of how good this Dallas Stars team can be against quality opponents over a period of time.
February 6th – February 16th
The next interesting stretch comes just a few days after the All-Star break. This set of six games in eleven days will feature five different teams that were all in the Playoffs last year. The Stars will also be featured on NBCSN two times, which is something that fans will be excited about since that will only happen one other time in the season.
Again, the Stars will face high quality opponents in a long stretch. They’ll have the Wild, Capitals, Predators, Blues and the Blackhawks (twice). Since these games will occur after the All-Star break, all eyes will start to focus on the Playoffs and playoff seeding.
Just like the December stretch, this one will end in a back-to-back which will be interesting for the goalie situation. By that time we should have a better view on who will be playing on the front ends and who will be playing on the back ends of back-to-backs.
March 11th – March 19th
This last stretch of games could potentially be the most important stretch out of the whole season for a few reasons. First, it features five straight home games for the Stars. It will be important for them to protect home ice in these games. The next reason is because there will be less than a month left in the season. Everything will be focused on securing a Playoff spot and making sure they have a decent spot in the standings.
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The last reason is because of the strength of the opponents. Again, the Stars will play the Blackhawks in this stretch but they will also face the Blues, Kings, Lightning and Islanders. Two of those teams are potential first round opponents and by this point in the season, the Stars should be playing their best hockey as they ready up for the postseason.
Overall, there will obviously be other tough stretches for the Stars this season, but these stand out as the most difficult ones just because of their length and the teams they will face. Don’t forget that the regular season kicks off on Thursday, October 8th against the Penguins.