Dallas Stars dismantle Oilers, keep pace in Central Division

DALLAS, TX - JANUARY 06: Jamie Benn
DALLAS, TX - JANUARY 06: Jamie Benn /

The Dallas Stars posted a fantastic 5-1-0 record over their recent home stand. It only helped them stay afloat in the massively competitive NHL Central.

First, the good news. The Dallas Stars are firmly ensconced in the NHL Western Conference playoff picture. They currently hold the first wild card spot and are four points clear of eighth place. They are 6-2-2 in their last ten games. You don’t even have to squint anymore to see the traits of a bona fide playoff team,

The bad news? One bad week of hockey changes everything. Granted, the way they’re playing right now doesn’t portend anything sinister. In fact, the exact opposite is true. As the NHL season passes its true midpoint, the Stars are playing some of the best hockey they’ve played in at least two years.

There problem here is that a some of their divisional brethren are playing some pretty inspired hockey themselves. Save for St. Louis, the rest of the division sports a .500-or-better record over their last ten contests. For a team trying to jockey for playoff position, it’s got to be at least a little disheartening to see that you’re not creating any space between you and your competition.

Then again, it’s probably fun to hit the ice with a heightened sense of urgency on a nightly basis. Furthermore, when you’ve got players like Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Alexander Radulov, John Klingberg, and Ben Bishop, confidence is high during any given game. Top to bottom, the Stars have talent comparable to any roster in the league.

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This was on display during a Saturday matinee at American Airlines Center. The Stars wasted no time jumping all over an outclassed Edmonton Oiler team. It was 3-0 before the Oilers knew what hit them, and the 5-1 final was as lopsided as it seemed. Make no mistake, coach Ken Hitchcock is pulling the right levers. The gears are turning, and team is responding with some very solid play. Good thing, too. There’s simply no room for error. Every time Dallas wins, it seems like the teams in front of them and behind them find a way to pull two points. It might seem unfair, but such is life in today’s NHL.

Now normally, there’s no rest for the weary. This time, however, Saturday’s win enabled the Stars to hit their league mandated bye week on a high note. It’s almost a shame, given how well the team is playing. From a fan’s standpoint, a week without a game seems a bit harsh. You want the roll to continue. But I’m sure the players are relieved to get away for a few days.

Nevertheless, the bar is set with this bunch. They know it, too. The buy-in is there and it’s easy to see if you’re following this team regularly. I’m not too concerned with them missing the playoffs, although I guess anything’s possible. Like I said earlier, a bad week changes the tune completely. But you can’t watch Dallas Stars’ hockey right now and tell me the arrow is pointed down. Barring a catastrophe, this team will make the Stanley Cup tournament.

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And let me tell you, if you’re not familiar with the greatness of playoff hockey, you need to be. The product the NHL deploys between April and June is an eight week death march to the coolest spoil of the sports world, the Stanley Cup. There is simply nothing like playoff hockey. The burgeoning notion that the Stars will likely be involved is simply the icing on the cake for a fan base starved for a little postseason action.