O'Callahan: No Room For Error
After Dallas' overtime loss at Columbus and all of the games on Thursday night, where do we stand?
Let's start with the facts:
* The Stars can still win the Pacific Division, but they will have to be perfect in their final two games (vs. ANA, vs. CHI) and the Ducks cannot gain another point (at DAL, at CBJ). San Jose would also have to gain zero points in their final game on Saturday vs. Vancouver.
* Dallas can finish in any of the following seeds: 2, 5, 6 or 7. Dallas cannot catch Nashville for the 4 Seed. If the Stars win the division, they will land in Seed No. 2 (1 and 3 are not possible).
* The Stars will face one of the following teams in the first round: Vancouver, Nashville, Anaheim, San Jose or Minnesota.
* Detroit clinched the Central Division Thursday and is probable for the No. 1 Seed.
Now let's look at the scenarios for Dallas:
* Friday's game vs. Anaheim still looms large in dictating the Stars' first round opponent. After this game, we'll know if Dallas is still alive for the division. It will also go a long way in telling Anaheim's fate, as the Ducks can still be passed by San Jose or Dallas for the division, and also Vancouver, currently in the 3 hole.
* The most-likely opponents for Dallas remain the Predators or Canucks, based on what I see. The numbers state that the Stars are more probable to land the 5 or 6 seed, and I would be very surprised if Vancouver or Nashville move out of their current 3 and 4 seeds, respectively.
* Another long shot scenario includes Minnesota, who can still catch Dallas, and are also still in contention to catch Vancouver for the Northwest. The Stars need just 1 point to clinch the 6 Seed or higher. The Canucks are still 2 points from clinching the division. The Stars would probably play Minnesota if Dallas wins the Pacific.
Updated Shamus odds for Dallas opponent (entering Friday's games):
Stars vs. Vancouver 60%
Stars vs. Nashville 30%
Stars vs. Minnesota 8%
Stars vs. Anaheim 1%
Stars vs. San Jose 1%
As I said, I think we'll know a lot more after Friday's game between the Ducks and Stars.
I predict that the current version of "The Grid" and the standings as they are right now will be the same playoff match-ups next week.
Who do the Stars match-up with better for the first round? You can read more and see exclusive print and video previews of possible opponents with Ralph Strangis, Daryl Reaugh, Brett Hull and the Ticket's Bob Sturm on the home landing page of Playoff Central. Click Here
This year's playoffs should be one of the best-ever in recent memory. All eight teams in the West are capable of winning in the first round and moving on, and all are candidates to win the conference title and play for Lord Stanley's Cup. In other words, there really is no such thing as an "upset" in this year's playoffs. Nothing would surprise me.