Dallas Stars: Looking Ahead At Their December 2018 Schedule

CALGARY, AB - NOVEMBER 28: Valeri Nichushkin #43 and teammates of the Dallas Stars celebrate a goal against the Calgary Flames during an NHL game on November 28, 2018 at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images)
CALGARY, AB - NOVEMBER 28: Valeri Nichushkin #43 and teammates of the Dallas Stars celebrate a goal against the Calgary Flames during an NHL game on November 28, 2018 at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images) /

After a long and treacherous November slate, the Dallas Stars will kick off December hockey today. But what do they have facing them over the next 31 days as they close out the 2018 year?

It’s the most wonderful time of the year and the Dallas Stars are making it count. That sounds like a pretty decent combination for Stars fans.

As the final month of 2018 sets into motion, there’s a lot to take in regarding the Stars and their play. The Stars currently sit at a mark of 13-10-3 with 29 points in 26 games. That’s good enough for the second wild card spot in the Western Conference and has them within striking distance of the top three in the Central division. But it isn’t an entirely comfortable spot to be in.

Dallas has three teams sitting within four points just below them in the standings. That’s how tight the standings are at the moment. And with that being said, their playoff future is all but guaranteed.

But the Dallas Stars are holding their own. After a rough stretch through the tail end of November, they bounced back and are 2-1-1 in their last four games. That includes a 4-3 win over the Calgary Flames in their most recent contest.

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Throughout the month of November, the Stars posted a record of 7-5-3. That comes on the heels of a 6-5-0 month of October, meaning that Dallas is slowly building themselves to an above .500 team, one game at a time.  But the on-ice play has been different, especially considering the situations.

In the month of October, it was all about the Stars adapting to Jim Montgomery’s new style as well as the new players on the roster. But in November, it was all about Dallas avoiding pitfall after pitfall as their lineup was hit hard by the injury bug.

The Stars started the month of November with a 5-2-2 mark, but ended on a 2-3-1 skid. Part of that has to do with all of the injuries finally catching up to them, while another part has to do with an almost unheard of schedule. In the final full week of the month, the Stars played five games in a seven-day span, including two back-to-backs and four games on the road.

“Yeah, definitely. What do we have, two back-to-backs scheduled?,” said Stars forward Jason Dickinson about the scheduling back on Black Friday. “It’s going to be tough, but I think we have to manage our energy levels on our days off and really take care of our bodies because it’s going to be important throughout this stretch.”

But Dallas found a way to make it through and enter December in a playoff spot. That’s important and should serve as a boost of confidence as the lineup continues to recover to full health.

And now, here we are in December. The holiday season is in full swing as the temperatures continue to drop outside, the Dallas Stars have a full slate of games to look forward to.

The Stars are slowly trying to gain steam as the season rolls along, and December is typically the month where they get it done. In 2017-18, they posted an 8-5-2 record. Even in their terrible 2016-17 campaign, they finished the month with a 7-6-0 mark.

This year’s slate offers yet another opportunity to get ahead, with the first one coming this afternoon against the Vancouver Canucks, who are close on their tail in the standings.

Let’s take a look at the Stars’ December opponents and matchups:

Vancouver Canucks (1 game: home), Edmonton Oilers (1 game: home), San Jose Sharks (2 games: 1 home, 1 away), Vegas Golden Knights (1 game: away), Anaheim Ducks (1 game: away), Colorado Avalanche (1 game: away), Calgary Flames (1 game: home), Chicago Blackhawks (1 game: home), Minnesota Wild (1 game: away), New York Islanders (1 game: home), Nashville Predators (1 game: away), Detroit Red Wings (1 game: home), Montreal Canadiens (1 game: home)

Let’s break that down for a moment.

The Dallas Stars play a total of 14 games during the month of December. That’s one less than they played in November through 28 days, meaning their breaks will be a little more scattered this month.

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  • The 14 games offer an even split of home and away contests, with seven of each over the next month. Considering they are 8-3-1 at the AAC, those seven home games could be a big factor in keeping the Stars progressing forward.

    The schedule includes a four-game road trip, a two-game homestand, and the first two games of a four-game homestand that leaks over into January.

    After starting Central division play on a relatively quiet note with only four games through the first 26 contests, the Dallas Stars will pick up the pace with four divisional matchups in December. The Stars won their first Central showdown of the year, but have since gone 0-2-1. This month’s stretch includes games against Colorado, Minnesota, and Nashville, all teams that the Stars have already lost to at some point this year.

    As mentioned above, the home slate could play a huge role in helping the Stars gain ground in the month ahead. But the seven road games will present another tough test. After starting the year 0-3-0 when playing away from home, Dallas has bounced back in decent fashion. But, they still sit at 5-7-2 and could use more consistency, especially considering their current 1-3-1 skid in road play. They will get their first chance at establishing that consistency this afternoon in Vancouver.

    This month offers an excellent chance for the Dallas Stars to not only shift in the Central division standings, but also in the Western Conference standings. Of the 14 games, only three come against the Eastern Conference. With four against the Central and seven against the Pacific, it will be a month for the Stars to either tighten their grip on a playoff spot out West or fall further into the middle of the pack.

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    Of their 13 different opponents, only six currently sit in a playoff spot as of Dec. 1. And though the standings are still tight in both conferences, this spells opportunity for the Stars to get ahead against opponents still trying to find their footing in the 2018-19 season.

    This is also a somewhat familiar slate for the Dallas Stars, and that’s a good thing. In the December opponents that they have faced this season, the Stars are a combined 6-3-2.

    With only one back-to-back (Anaheim and San Jose) and a handful of three-day breaks embedded, it’s proving to be an interesting December for the Dallas Stars. And, as the team continues to get healthier and receive reinforcements throughout the month (including Ben Bishop and John Klingberg), it should make them all the more stronger and threatening as the month goes along.

    The first two months are in the past for the Stars. They have experienced some bad luck and some painful lessons, but are still in the thick of the playoff race. Jim Montgomery has his team trending in the right direction, and that trend will have to continue into December. That all starts this afternoon in British Columbia against the Canucks.

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    The most wonderful time of the year is here. Let’s see if the Stars can make it count.