Playoff races are always exhilarating each year. Teams put in one final effort to reach the playoffs. The Dallas Stars are likely to make the playoffs but their quest for the division title is not secure. There is now a 3-way race between the contenders in the Central Division. The Stars held a commanding lead for a sizable portion of the season but that is now evaporated. A big win in Chicago Tuesday night put the Stars right in the middle of the 3-team race. The Minnesota Wild and Colorado Avalanche are in a fight with the Stars for the division title.
Fight for the Finish
Both the Stars and Wild have 74 games played while the Avalanche played 73. The Stars and Avalanche have 94 points while the Wild are at 95. This race is set for a thrilling end. The Wild and Avalanche play each other in Colorado Wednesday night. The best outcome the Stars can hope for in that contest is for the game to avoid overtime at all costs. The Stars also visit the Avalanche on Saturday in a must-win game for hopes of the division crown.
There are several games to blame should the Stars not win the division. Missed chances against the Rangers, Flames, and Blackhawks hurt. The Rangers won in overtime after trailing with less than a second left. 3-0 leads will get teams the win most of the time. The Blackhawks came back down 0-3 to win 4-3. The thrilling affair between the Stars and Flames ended with a game-winner at the 19:53 mark. Leaving crucial points on the table cannot happen if you want to win the division.
The 14 overtime/shootout losses didn’t help either. 6 out 14 of those extra points and the Stars are in a much better position. These missed points aren’t ideal but there is a silver lining if they finish in their current 3rd place position.
Let’s say the Stars do not win the division and stay in 3rd place. Oddly enough, their record on the road is better than the one at home. Their 22-10-5 record away from the American Airlines Center is better than 18-10-9 in Dallas. The 3rd place team in the division plays #2 with that team having home-ice advantage. The team must like room service meals if they play better on the road.
The worst-case scenario for Wednesday is the game between the Avalanche and Wild going to overtime. The Stars also must win on Saturday against the Avalanche. The division comes down to these last 8 games of the season. Make them count.
Photo Credit: Dallas Stars Twitter