As you probably know the Stars are on or two more losses away from losing their spot in the playoffs. With Anaheim making their push and the Flames and Predators far from out of the race despite their 9-10th places right now. The Stars need a win tonight if they want to stay in the mix rather than becoming one of the teams who are clawing their way back in.
In theory (and this means nothing in reality) they probably need 11 more points to seal a playoff spot so they need to win about half of their remaining games (in theory…). The projected number is around 93-95 points to make the playoffs this year.
The Blackhawks are rolling full-steam-ahead right now, going 7-1-2 in their last 10 games and coming off of another win in their last game where they trounced the same Sharks that beat Dallas 6-3 last game. The good news is that the Stars are still only 2 points behind the Blackhawks though with the tie-breaking rules I am honestly at a loss for how they will handle who is in what place if they were to win in regulation as they will also be tied in ROW if I’m not mistaken. It’s all sort of convoluted to me, so I’ll just wait until NHL.com updates post-game.
If I’m the Dallas Stars (and I am in my heart), then I’m concentrating on the 4th-5th place seeds right now. That’s where I want to be, since the loss to San Jose all but killed the Stars hopes of taking back the division lead. Right now it’s between the Kings and the Sharks and unless either/both of them hit a losing streak then the Stars need to just worry about getting a good draw for a first round opponent, god knows 8th place is not where thye want to be as the Canucks have their number. I can see them beating Detroit and even San jose, but I think they want to hit that 4th and 5th place sweet spot. The chances of them playing a division foe is pretty high as well, so that makes things interesting if the Stars can keep their cool and keep a playoff birth. I think a lot of people believe if they can make it in they can make a splash, and I dont think many teams feel comfortable getting them as their first round opponent knowing the kind of team they are.
But that is beside the point, the point of this is that tonight the Stars have a chance to pull themselves 2 more points away from the 8th place threshold and POSSIBLY take over a spot in the top 8. The …neutral news… is that all of the other teams play tonight as well so it will definitely be interesting to see how things look when the dust settles tonight.
Richards has been a non-issue since he came back, disappearing for most of the games he’s played. If the Stars want to get back into this race they need him to play like he was before the injury. That is imparative, especially since Loui Eriksson is out for the forseeable future.
So far it was a waste of Loui Eriksson to have him on a line with the Brad Richards we are seeing now, I’m hoping we see Benn take that spot on the line with Richards, getting Brad more ice-time and a winger that will create by himself if he isn’t going to.
We’ll have to watch and find out, I think the Stars are in a position that they know this is possibly the biggest game they’ve played so far this seasong iven the ramifications. Let’s hope they perform up to that against a Hawks team who could be over-confident and not as pressured by the rankings as the Stars are.