The Dallas Stars don’t play again until Wednesday. After playing on Saturday night that gives them Sunday through Tuesday with the inability to put any points on the board.
You might say, everyone plays 82 games at the end of it all. But, there is the question of momentum and focus being lost in such an extended break. And this has to be weighing on the minds of the players, seeing the inevitable happen: teams passing them in the standings. Despite the fact that they have 10 games in hand and other teams will likely be passing them in the games played department, it has to do something to your mind set when you’re getting passed by a team even if it is because of the schedule.
On the other hand this could light a fire under the team that will propel them through a late-season push for a playoff spot. It is hard to think about the definite posibility that the Stars could miss the playoffs all together again this year for a third straight season, given how well they played this season. The West is just THAT competitive this season and could be even worse this coming season once the top 2 or 3 teams in the conference sell their cap space off and the 9-12th place teams buy in.
The Stars are doing all of this with a lot of cap-space left and a lot of things are riding on the team being sold finally. While the team is being held hostage by investors, the Stars can’t spend to cap and put their team over the top. This also means they are going to barely make the playoffs. However on the other side of this double edged sword, the sale of the team loses some traction if they don’t make the playoffs, as the price they are asking for the team becomes even more outlandish when the team they are trying to sell isn’t a playoff team.
This break could mean a lot to the Stars and it could go either way. We fans have a hard time thinking positively, given the last 2 seasons. But, I think it will be best for everyone if we can think of the 10 games they have left to play. So at the end of this extended time off, no matter what place they end up sliding to – they can always climb back thanks to the even ground every team stands on.
We can also root avidly for every other team in the West around them to lose vigorously until they get back on the ice against the Ducks in the last game of their homestand before heading out to meet the Predators in Nashville – two huge games that they need to win in regulation to fend off two teams looking to take their spot in the top 8.
Teams that are within striking distance of the Stars that are below them in the standings that play between the 20th and the 23rd:
(#) = Place they are in as of this post
Anaheim Ducks (9) 2 (One game vs. Dallas)
Calgary Flames (10) 2
Chicago Blackhawks (7) 2
Minnesota Wild (11) 2
Nashville Predators (8) 2
As I post this the Preds have won their early-game and leap-frogged the Stars into 6th place pushing the Stars into 7th and the Hawks into 8th.