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O'Callahan: Possibilities Abound

Thursday, 04.05.2007 / 12:00 AM / News
Dallas Stars
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O\'Callahan: Possibilities Abound

By Shamus O'Callahan
Hockey Historian

I just finished watching the Ducks-Sharks game on Center Ice in what was one of the best games I've watched in a while. San Jose wins, 3-2, in the shootout.

What does that mean for Stars fans? Well, I spent the next hour or so staring at "The Grid" -- an Excel spreadsheet made up every March to follow the race for the playoffs. It includes each of the teams still alive in the hunt for the playoffs with their current record and remaining schedule.

Usually you can make some educated guesses on what will be the final playoff match-ups, especially with just four days remaining in the regular season. Well, you might as well take out a dartboard and make your picks that way with the standings in their current form. I'm actually more confused about the direction of the race than I was 24 hours ago.


Anaheim needs 2 points in their last two games to clinch the Pacific. They play at Dallas and at Columbus. San Jose and Dallas each remain alive for the division, but each needs help to catch the Ducks. The Stars would need to beat Anaheim in regulation on Friday and then have Anaheim earn no more than 1 point at CBJ. San Jose would also have to lose at least 1 point to Calgary or Vancouver for Dallas to win the division. The Sharks' only hope to win the Pacific would be to win out and have the Ducks earn only 1 of 4 remaining points. Remember, the first tie-breaker is total wins.

Anaheim is in the driver's seat, but things can change overnight.


Here's where it gets choppy. Vancouver is settling into the Number 3 Seed spot, but the 4, 5, 6 & 7 Seeds could all change up until the final game is played.

Nashville, San Jose and Dallas remain within 4 points of one another, with Minnesota waiting in the weeds with two winnable games left on their schedule (EDM, STL). We've all been assuming that Nashville was going to be the 4 Seed, but they've fallen back to the pack a bit and now could be caught by San Jose and Dallas (can you imagine a Sharks-Stars first round series? It's possible). If the Stars and Sharks win out and Nashville drops 2 of 4 remaining points, Dallas will play San Jose. Even the Ducks can jump into the 4-5 possibilities if they falter.


Meanwhile Detroit is 1 point away from clinching the top seed in the West, with two games vs. Chicago on the docket.

Calgary needs 2 points to clinch the 8th and final playoff spot, but Colorado still has a slim chance. The two teams play each other on the last day of the season (both have three games left).

I think it is fairly safe to say that Calgary will play Detroit.


People have been asking me for the last 48 hours what team I think the Stars will draw for their first round opponent. Until the Sharks-Ducks game was over, I was predicting Nashville. Now I'm not so sure.

The Predators are 3-5-2 in their last 10, while Dallas and San Jose are a combined 15-3-2. What does that say about Nashville's chances to stay in 4th or 5th? Hitting the playoffs on a roll can be very important.

Friday night's game with Anaheim at Dallas will go a long way in determining the Stars' fate. If the Stars win it, I don't see them finishing lower than 5 (probably still getting Nashville). But get no points in that contest and I can see a Vancouver-Dallas match-up in round one.

So here are my odds on Dallas' first round match-up, as of Thursday morning:

Stars vs. Minnesota 5%
Stars vs. Nashville 40%
Stars vs. Vancouver 40%
Stars vs. San Jose 15%

No doubt I'll be changing these projections following the Stars' game at Columbus on Thursday evening. Stay tuned. If you think this is fun, wait until next week when the playoffs begin.





1 ANA 50 32 12 6 147 134 70
2 NSH 48 31 11 6 145 115 68
3 STL 48 31 13 4 156 117 66
4 CHI 49 31 16 2 155 113 64
5 WPG 50 26 16 8 140 127 60
6 SJS 49 26 17 6 137 135 58
7 VAN 47 27 17 3 129 120 57
8 CGY 49 26 20 3 140 127 55
9 LAK 48 21 15 12 133 129 54
10 COL 50 21 18 11 131 141 53
11 DAL 48 22 19 7 152 157 51
12 MIN 48 22 20 6 131 138 50
13 ARI 48 17 25 6 111 161 40
14 EDM 49 13 27 9 113 162 35


T. Seguin 48 28 25 1 53
J. Benn 48 16 28 -2 44
J. Spezza 48 8 27 -4 35
T. Daley 45 12 12 -7 24
E. Cole 44 12 11 3 23
A. Goligoski 48 1 22 8 23
A. Roussel 48 11 11 -1 22
C. Eakin 45 9 13 8 22
J. Klingberg 34 7 13 8 20
A. Hemsky 45 8 11 -6 19
K. Lehtonen 20 11 7 .903 2.99
A. Lindback 2 7 0 .875 3.79
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