Playoff picture getting clearer for the Dallas Stars

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

If you’ve ever kept tabs on the Dallas Stars before, then their current lot in life should come as no surprise to you. No, the Stars don’t do “easy”. In fact, they do the opposite. “Difficult and full of drama” should be this team’s mission statement, and that has been in sharp focus for the past week.

The Stars could’ve made life much easier on themselves during last week’s three-game jaunt through Western Canada. Get a win here, an overtime point there, and the playoffs would be a virtual lock. Instead, they lost all three games in that British Columbia-Alberta trifecta and left the door wide open for some interloper to squash their postseason hopes.

The Dallas Stars now have the rest of their games at home to clinch a spot.

Of course, this set the anti-Rick Bowness faction ablaze once again–not that they need any help. Any wobble during the course of the year sets them off, and last week’s Canada debacle only helped to kindle the flame.

The curious thing about them is that they seem to think the Stars should just cut ties with their head coach right now. I’ve even seen them on social media openly pining for the team to tank and miss the playoffs to help expedite the process. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. This fan base has got to be among the most fragile in the league. There’s just a (very) vocal portion of us that appears to prefer misery over finding the joy in a playoff hunt.

Now, let’s get down to brass tacks. The Stars, in spite of themselves, still sit in the cat bird seat in terms of a spot in the Stanley Cup tournament. There is a pod of three teams–the Stars, Golden Knights, and Canucks–that are still mathematically eligible to qualify, but that arithmetic is affected by the scant number of games left on their respective schedules.

As it stands right now, all three teams have played 79 games. The Stars have 93 points, the Golden Knights have 90, and the Canucks have 87. If the Stars win out, they would finish with 99 points and would be either the seventh or eighth seed in the West depending on what shakes out with Nashville.

But the Stars don’t necessarily need to win out. They just to win the right games and secure enough points. As has been the case all season long, despite the peaks and valleys, Dallas can write their own ticket to the playoffs without relying on anyone’s help. Some fans wouldn’t be caught in public admitting this, but the Stars have been a very solid team since late January.

Any of the weird losses they harp on really tend to smell exactly like regular season bumps that happen to a lot teams. Heck, look at the Canadiens. They’ve been pretty horrible all year, but they have managed to knock some good teams off stride along the way. It happens. Bad teams pay their players too.

What you don’t want to see is stuff like last week where the team messed themselves for three games in a row. Thankfully, Vegas only treaded water, and Vancouver finally cooled off. All the while, the Stars’ chances of being caught from behind dwindled. For all their sins, the Stars still found the silver lining, which culminated in a spirited comeback Saturday night against the expansion Seattle Kraken.

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As for winning the aforementioned right games, it goes without saying that tomorrow night’s tilt versus the Vegas Golden Knights is monumental. For their part, Vegas lost in a shootout late Sunday, so that means the Stars’ would actually clinch a spot with a regulation win. Not bad for a team with a penchant for last minute drama.