Dallas Stars Finding Consistent Success Against Pacific Division

DALLAS, TX - DECEMBER 7: Radek Faksa #12, Blake Comeau #15 and the Dallas Stars celebrate a goal against Martin Jones #31 of the San Jose Sharks at the American Airlines Center on December 7, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - DECEMBER 7: Radek Faksa #12, Blake Comeau #15 and the Dallas Stars celebrate a goal against Martin Jones #31 of the San Jose Sharks at the American Airlines Center on December 7, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The Dallas Stars are currently riding a four-game win streak through a Pacific-heavy part of their schedule. And, while it’s not the Central, this early-season dominance against the other division out West is proving to be important.

Before the 2013-14 season began, the Dallas Stars underwent some significant changes. And, considering they had missed the postseason for the fifth year in a row in 2013, change was justified.

First, the Stars fired GM Joe Nieuwendyk and brought in Jim Nill to take his place. Lindy Ruff was hired as their new head coach. Their jerseys and logos received a fresh and unique makeover. And finally, they made a handful of blockbuster trades and free agent signings over the summer that left the roster looking revamped going into 2013-14.

But, there was also some change on a league-wide scale. During the summer, the NHL changed both the Stanley Cup Playoffs format as well as the division alignment. The league shifted from six divisions to four, moved a handful of teams across conferences, and attempted to align divisions based on proximity.

As a result, the Stars, after years of competing with teams like San Jose and Anaheim and suffering through a plethora of 9:30 p.m. starts, were moved from the Pacific division and placed in the newly-formed Central division. That came with a bit of a culture shock.

More from Blackout Dallas

The Central is arguably the strongest division in the NHL. It’s the only NHL division where every team has been to the playoffs at least twice since realignment. The Central division always seems to be a dogfight, producing some of the strongest talent in the league and breeding Stanley Cup favorites with each passing season.

That has provided an uphill battle for the Dallas Stars, who are a combined 61-61-20 in divisional play since 2013-14. Some years, they have been dominant; others, not so much. And, as it almost always seems to go, their success in the division directly correlates to their playoff hopes.

But though their Central division play is just average, they do have success against other Western Conference opponents.

Since realignment, Dallas is a dominant 76-31-11 against Pacific division foes. That encompasses Anaheim, Arizona, Calgary, Edmonton, Los Angeles, San Jose, Vancouver, and Vegas. It’s not uncommon for the Stars to be riding a long winning streak against any one of these opponents whenever they come up in the schedule.

That success provides a boost in their conference outlook and gives the team something strong to build on. And so far in the 2018-19 season, it’s giving them all that and more.

If you have not noticed, the Dallas Stars are in the midst of a long Pacific division stretch right now. Starting on Nov. 27 and ending on Dec. 13, the Stars have eight consecutive games against Pacific opponents. Considering they only play 24 games against the division each year, this is a hefty chunk of their season schedule.

So far, the Stars are riding a 4-0-1 streak. It’s helped them build a season-long four-game win streak as they head back out on the road for a four-game swing. But that’s only part of the success.

On the year overall, the Dallas Stars are 9-0-1 against the Pacific division. They have yet to lose a game in regulation against a Pacific foe and have played all but one of them (being Vegas, who the Stars will face on Sunday night in the desert). They have outscored the division 34-18, own a 21.7 percent success rate on the power play, and boast a 92.9 percent success rate on the penalty kill.

The one overtime loss? A 1-0 defeat at the hands of the Edmonton Oilers on the road. One night later, they rebounded and defeated the Calgary Flames 4-3.

Their most recent contest turned into a 3-2 win over the San Jose Sharks on Friday night at the American Airlines Center. The Sharks jumped ahead early, but Dallas clawed back and used a dominant performance from Ben Bishop (.953 save percentage) to seal the win.

More from Editorials

To put it plainly, the Stars are running the Pacific. They sit in fourth place in the Central right now, but would be a comfy second if they were in the Pacific.

These games against the Pacific division may seem like any typical regular season matchup, but there’s no doubting that they are valuable to the Stars.

At the moment, the Stars own the first wild card spot in the West. If the regular season ended today, Dallas would be pitted against the Calgary Flames in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They would also be shifted into the Pacific bracket and have a chance at going all the way to the Western Conference Finals before seeing a Central opponent.

If that were to hold up to the end of the regular season, it could be big for the Stars. Their confidence against the Pacific is brimming and they just keep translating it into wins.

Friday night’s game was a reminder and reassurance that the Dallas Stars are finding ways to down the Pacific. As a result, they are turning it into victories and helping themselves in the playoff race. Winning against your own division is critical, but beating conference opponents can prove to be just as valuable in the playoff hunt.

Over the next week, the Dallas Stars will face Vegas, Anaheim, and San Jose to close out this lengthy Pacific slate. Following that, they only have one more Pacific opponent on schedule over the next month. Getting points is always critical at this time of the year, and the Stars know that.

As a result, they are riding a furious streak against conference foes.

Projecting The Stars' 2021 Expansion Draft Outlook. dark. Next

Aside from the late-night starts and eventual sleep deprivation, wouldn’t it be nice for the Stars to be back in the Pacific right about now?