They are Who We Thought They Were
Dallas Playing Better Hockey but the Battle has Just Begun
Wednesday, 01.28.2009 / 4:36 PM / Feature
By Seamus O'Callahan - Hockey Historian
Take a gander at the standings lately? It’s getting interesting and should stay that way the rest of the season.
The Stars are in the middle of a nine-team pack currently ranked between 5th place and 13th that are separated by only eight points. Dallas sits in the 11th spot at the moment, just two points shy of eighth and a mere four points out of fifth.
Dallas has the fifth-highest points percentage in the West since Nov. 30, going 14-7-3 for 31 points in that time. It has been the key to getting the team back in the playoff picture. They have slowly climbed from 15th to 11th place.
The rundown of the best points percentage in the West since Nov. 30:
|Team||Record Since Nov. 30||Points Percentage|
|San Jose||15-3-4, 34 pts.||.773|
|Detroit||16-5-3, 35 pts.||.729|
|Calgary||14-5-3, 31 pts.||.704|
|Chicago||15-6-2, 32 pts.||.697|
|Dallas||14-7-3, 31 pts.||.646|
|Phoenix||14-9-3, 31 pts.||.596|
|Edmonton||14-10-1, 29 pts.||.580|
|Columbus||13-10-2, 28 pts.||.560|
But the work has only begun. The playoffs have actually started for the Stars, as points are at a premium for every team that is bunched in this mess. Lose three in a row and a team finds themselves fading fast. Put a little winning streak together and all of a sudden you’re breathing down Chicago’s neck in the four-spot.
A Rooting Interest
If you’re a Stars fan, you should also be big fans of the Sharks, Red Wings, Flames and Blackhawks the rest of the way (in games not playing against Dallas). In particular, root for these teams to win in regulation.
The way I see it, these four teams are going to have home ice in the first round of the playoffs and it should not hurt the Stars one bit if they continue their success for the rest of the regular season. Dallas needs these teams to keep valuable points away from the Coyotes, Ducks, Wild, Oilers, Blue Jackets, Canucks, Avalanche and Kings.
May I add that I believe we should all be rooting for Nashville and St. Louis in the same fashion, but I am also aware of how close they loom just behind this pack of nine teams. Be careful what you wish (or root) for.
The head-to-head battles will also go a long way in deciding who will make the post-season as well. For instance, if you had to pick one game that the Stars win on this trip through Detroit and Columbus, pick the Blue Jackets game. Again – keep points away from these teams.
Dallas’ remaining head-to-heads that loom large:
Anaheim: Three games, two on the road (including the last game of the year)
Colorado: Two in Denver
Columbus: Two in Ohio
Los Angeles: Three games (two in LA)
Minnesota: Two games (home and home)
Phoenix: Two games (home and home)
Vancouver: Three games (two in Dallas)
Dallas plays seven of its last 10 games against this group.
The Stars’ last road trip of the season is at Minnesota, Colorado and Anaheim. Think that might be a big one?
February is Big
All of the games are important the rest of the way but the Stars have a nice opportunity in February, playing 10 of its 13 games for the month at American Airlines Center. If the Stars can continue to rack up points, it will place them in a nice position for the stretch run.
Dallas hosts Calgary, the NY Rangers and Nashville next week. Fans, your team needs you and now is the time.
Besides, who wants to watch the Pro Bowl??