Dallas Stars: Pacific Division Games Carry Weight For Stars

EDMONTON, AB - NOVEMBER 27: Alex Chiasson #39 of the Edmonton Oilers battles position with Radek Faksa #12 of the Dallas Stars on November 27, 2018 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)
EDMONTON, AB - NOVEMBER 27: Alex Chiasson #39 of the Edmonton Oilers battles position with Radek Faksa #12 of the Dallas Stars on November 27, 2018 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images) /

It wasn’t an ideal beginning to the Western Canada road swing for the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night. But, there’s only time to keep moving forward. And, whether you know it or not, these Pacific division games could carry a lot of weight for the team down the stretch.

The Dallas Stars are stuck in one of the roughest patches of their 2018-19 season right now. In their past five contests, they are 1-3-1. As a result, they sit at 12-10-3 on the year and are clinging to the second wild card spot.

The mass number of injuries on their roster are beginning to take a toll, the power play is lacking severely, and their offensive pressure and production is practically non-existent.

All of these issues shone through on Tuesday night when Dallas visited the Edmonton Oilers. The Stars were shutout on 28 shots by Oilers goalie Mikko Koskinen, went 0/2 on the power play, and lost the physicality and face-off battle. And, had it not been for the heroic efforts from a tired Anton Khudobin (who was starting his fourth game in seven days), the Stars may have left Rogers Place without a point.

But, even with the lacking offensive pressure, the Stars found a way to secure a point in overtime. They almost claimed the second towards the end of regulation when Jamie Benn had a wide open chance in front of the net that left him with two or three different options that could have ended the game. Instead, he shot it into Koskinen’s stomach and the clock ran out, giving way to overtime. That was where Oscar Klefbom scored to earn the win for Edmonton.

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And now, here the Dallas Stars sit. They are 12-10-3 and barely hold onto a playoff spot at the moment. The injuries continue to hit the team where it hurts and the Stars cannot seem to find any consistency in their efforts or play. Saturday night’s loss to Colorado was a stinger, but this one doesn’t feel much better.

But, there’s no time to sit back and break down the loss. There’s only time to dive into the next contest. Tonight, the Stars will visit Calgary to take on the Flames for the first time this season. The Flames currently sit first in the Pacific division and will present another heavy test for an ailing and tired Dallas team that has yet to win on the second night of a back-to-back this year.

And this is just the beginning for the Stars against the Pacific. Wednesday night’s contest will be the second of eight straight games for Dallas against the Pacific division. Considering they only play 24 games against the Pacific during the year, this is a rather large chunk of it. And for the Dallas Stars, these games could end up meaning a lot.

A game against a Central division team always carries the most weight, but they aren’t the only ones that mean a lot. When you consider the situation that the Dallas Stars are currently in, the games against the rest of the Western Conference will likely end up meaning a lot as well.

Let’s take a look at some of the Western Conference standings for a moment.

Central Division

  1. Nashville Predators – 25 GP, 35 points
  2. Colorado Avalanche – 24 GP, 32 points
  3. Minnesota Wild – 24 GP, 30 points
  4. Winnipeg Jets – 23 GP, 28 points (WC 1)
  5. Dallas Stars – 25 GP, 27 points (WC 2)

Pacific Division

  1. Calgary Flames – 24 GP, 29 points
  2. San Jose Sharks – 25 GP, 29 points
  3. Vegas Golden Knights – 26 GP, 27 points
  4. Anaheim Ducks – 26 GP, 27 points
  5. Vancouver Canucks – 27 GP, 25 points

There was an assumption at the beginning of the 2018-19 season that the Nashville Predators would win the regular season Western Conference title. So far, that prediction seems to be holding true.

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Assuming that they win it, the Predators would draw the second wild card team in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. That’s Dallas right now.

But, it could easily be another team in the near future. With Anaheim and Vancouver close on the Stars’ heels, there’s not a lot of room for error. And with both of those teams on the Stars’ schedule over the next two weeks, there is plenty of opportunity for the standings to jumble.

This is the time in a regular hockey season when playoff teams begin going on runs. After using the first 20 games to develop chemistry and adapt to offseason changes, this is the time where legitimate playoff contenders begin proving it.

Now, the Stars do carry success against the Pacific division this year. Last night’s loss to Edmonton was their first loss to the Pacific this year, bringing their record to 5-0-1 against the division. Last season, they were 15-9-0 out west.

The success is there. And, if the Stars can find a way to claim the first wild card spot over the final 57 games, they could push into the Pacific bracket and potentially pave themselves a good path down the postseason road.

But that all starts with winning these critical games against the Pacific, creating separation in the standings, and climbing up the rankings.

Next. Trips To Western Canada Typically Go Well For Stars. dark

Tonight is another chance to do just that against the best in the Pacific. But, as it always seems to go, it will not be easy.