Dallas Stars Must Take Advantage of Home Games to Increase Playoff Hopes

DALLAS, TEXAS - DECEMBER 03: Jason Dickinson #16, right, celebrates his goal with Mattias Janmark #13 of the Dallas Stars in the first period against the Edmonton Oilers at American Airlines Center on December 03, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TEXAS - DECEMBER 03: Jason Dickinson #16, right, celebrates his goal with Mattias Janmark #13 of the Dallas Stars in the first period against the Edmonton Oilers at American Airlines Center on December 03, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

With the second half of the 2018-19 season about to get underway, the Dallas Stars need to capitalize on the bevy of home games in their upcoming schedule to help solidify their chance to make a playoff run.

The Dallas Stars know what it’s like to be “in the hunt” for a playoff spot throughout the regular season. In the 2017-18 campaign, their hopes were cut short thanks to an eight-game-long losing streak in the middle of March, allowing the Los Angeles Kings and Colorado Avalanche to nab Wild Card spots one and two in the Western Conference.

In 2016, a slow start due to several roster injuries kept Dallas at a 9-10-6 record 25 games into the 2016-17 regular season; and as a result, they had difficulty recuperating finishing second-to-last in the Central Division with 79 points.

You get the gist.

Of course, these seasons (including the current one) all happened with different coaches, different styles of play, and different players, but the result seems to be the same—the Dallas Stars have been playing mediocre hockey. And unfortunately for the Dallas Stars, mediocre hockey certainly is not sufficient enough to make the playoffs in the NHL.

Things aren’t a lost cause for the 2018-19 season, though. The Stars have had to climb their way through the muck this season, with the most recent example being a media bombshell involving Stars’ CEO Jim Lites going on an expletive-filled rant directed at superstars Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin for not living up to Management’s expectations.

"“They are f****** horse-s***,” Lites told The Athletic’s Sean Shapiro. “The team was ok, but [Tyler] Seguin and [Jamie] Benn were terrible.”"

The team gave a strong response in the aftermath of Lites’ comments, defeating the Detroit Red Wings 5-1 at home last Friday night and securing one point in a 3-2 overtime loss against the Montreal Canadiens on Monday.

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The Stars have two more games left in their four-game homestand: one on Wednesday night against the New Jersey Devils, and the other on Friday night against the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Washington Capitals. New Jersey has won four out of their last five games, and all four wins were by a margin of at least two goals. They are tied with the Carolina Hurricanes at sixth place in the Metropolitan Division with 37 points.

Fortunately for Dallas, New Jersey has an abysmal 4-12-3 away record and a -14 goal differential. The Stars, on the contrary, are 12-5-2 at home and sit at +2 in goal differential. Dallas does have a three-game road trip ahead of them concluding the four-game homestand that starts Sunday night in Winnipeg, who is first in the Western Conference with 52 points.

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As for the final game of the homestand, Washington has seen much more success than New Jersey has this season—they lead the Metro with 51 points, have a 12-5-1 away record, and are 8-2 in their last ten games. But, like the Devils, the Caps have won all but one game in their last five. They will play against St. Louis on Wednesday night before heading to Dallas.

Though it might be an uphill battle, the Stars are more than able to put the brakes on Washington’s recent victory powwow.

Playoff Picture Outlook

The Central Division has loosened its grip around the Stars’ throat as of late—Dallas is just one win away from joining the Colorado Avalanche at third place with 46 points. And for what it’s worth, Nashville is not far ahead of both Dallas and Colorado with 48 points. To make matters better, the Stars have some additional leeway from Minnesota, Chicago, and St. Louis.

The Wild are fifth in the division with 39 points, Chicago is behind them with 36, and St. Louis is struggling at 32. All three teams that sit behind Dallas in the Central don’t play until Thursday, and all lost their last game (St. Louis has lost their last two). That said, Dallas shouldn’t get too comfortable, as the Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers, and Wild are within reasonable striking distance of the West’s second wild card slot.

The boys in Victory Green will play ten games in the month of January, seven of which are at home. With a playoff race for many teams soon to come in the next couple of months leading to the end of the regular season, the Stars need to push the gas early and squeeze as many points out of January as they can to help secure a playoff spot this postseason.

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If the Dallas Stars want to show that they’re for real, jumping out of the Wild Card pool and into the main competition of the Western Conference playoff picture can send a strong message to the rest of the league—and the next several home games serve as a perfect opportunity for them to do just that.

  • Published on 01/02/2019 at 23:01 PM
  • Last updated at 01/02/2019 at 08:59 AM