Sometimes, it’s not about playing a consistent game all season, as plenty of teams have played at an average to above-average pace for most of the year, only to peak at the right time. The Dallas Stars could be that team, given their recent play while the rest of the Central Division has struggled.
And if those struggles continue and the Stars keep pressing forward, they will be in the driver’s seat not only in February, but they will also own all the momentum in March and April. If Dallas wants to maximize those chances, there are five notable players on their roster whose respective performances must either grow or continue at the pace they’re at.
Joe Pavelski needs to keep playing like a player still entrenched in his prime
Joe Pavelski is one of the oldest players in the game today, having been around since the 2006-07 season. Oftentimes, when a player reaches a certain age, their productivity decreases substantially, and they become nothing more than a role player with limited ice time.
But Pavelski has 43 points in 50 contests with a 15.0 shooting percentage this season. While he’s averaging just 16:35 of ice time per game (his lowest since 2007-08), making the most of his opportunities with and without the puck is why the veteran just needs to keep himself from hitting a late-season wall.
Given his recent outings in 2021-22 and 2022-23, don’t expect Pavelski to slow down during the most important phase of the season. He’s on pace for 70 points and 31 goals, the latter of which would be his highest since 2018-19. He’s also still winning faceoffs and doing his part with sound numbers defensively, making Pavelski one of the more prolific players on this team despite his age.