The Central Division race is red hot going into the final two games. Just one point separates the Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars. Both these teams clinched home-ice advantage in the First Round on Tuesday night. Only one more thing needs settling and that is the division champion. The Stars have potential candidates with who they are playing when the playoffs start at the beginning of next week. The Stars will play either the Minnesota Wild, Seattle Kraken, Winnipeg Jets, or Los Angeles Kings. There are lots of storylines heading into the final 3 days of the regular season.
The Race Now
The Edmonton Oilers beat the Colorado Avalanche in overtime Tuesday night. This prevented Colorado from a crucial point but they also secured one. The Avalanche have 105 points while the Stars have 104. It’s safe to say the Stars exceeded expectations but a division title is a nice concept. The Avs play Thursday and Friday against the Jets and Predators. The Stars have a home-and-home Wednesday and Thursday against the St. Louis Blues. Only 1 point stands between the Stars and the defending Stanley Cup Champions so this race is coming down to the wire. It’s also worth noting that the Stars have the tie-breaker so the Stars are division champions if they both tie in points. Colorado controls their destiny but the Stars are breathing down their neck.
If Stars Win Division
The Seattle Kraken qualified for the playoffs for the first time in Franchise history. Their first opponent may come in the shape of the Dallas Stars. The Stars will play the Kraken if they win the division and Seattle does not pass Los Angeles in points.
If Stars Don’t Win Division
Minnesota will start their playoffs on the road in either Dallas or Colorado. Either the Stars or Avalanche will finish in 2nd place and that team plays the Wild. The Stars have a history with the Wild in the playoffs. That First Round matchup in 2016 was a doozy, especially the series clincher in Game 6. The Stars almost squandered a 4-0 lead in the 3rd Period and ended up winning 5-4.
Facing the Wild or Kraken is looking like a 70-80% chance as of Tuesday night. There are two other matchups that are possible. Finishing as regular season Western Conference Champions has a nice ring to it. If that were to happen then the Winnipeg Jets are coming to Dallas for a best-of-7. The Stars are 3 points back of the Vegas Golden Knights for best in the west. The Stars must win out and the Golden Knights lose twice in regulation for this to happen. Los Angeles and Seattle are also shooting for 3rd place in a close race. Seattle can still edge out the Kings for 3rd. The Stars can win the Central and face the Kings in the First Round.
The last time the Los Angeles Kings played the Dallas Stars organization in the playoffs was April 18, 1968. How have these 2 franchises gone 55 years without a playoff series between them? The Stars also haven’t played the Jets or Kraken in the playoffs either. The Stars will be in uncharted territory with whoever they play. That Wild series occurred 7 years ago while the other 3 teams haven’t played the Stars this Century if at all. At least the Stars are in the playoffs. Games 1 and 2 are next week at the American Airlines Center.
Photo Credit: Dallas Stars Twitter