Friday, March 16, 2012
Playoff watch: Big homestand ahead for Stars
By Mark Stepneski
The Stars kick off a four game homestand Friday night and they’ll be facing some pretty stiff competition over the next week, taking on Chicago, Phoenix, Vancouver and Calgary.
These are big points because even though the Stars have gone on a great run, teams below them have picked up points and are still within striking distance. It’s still a dog fight for the division and a spot in the playoffs.
The Stars have three days off after Friday's game, so picking up points and padding their lead would be a nice way to head into the their break. Get no points, and there's always the chance someone could pass them by the time they play their next game, which is Tuesday against Phoenix.
Friday night it is Chicago. If the playoffs were to start today, the Blackhawks would be the Stars' first round opponent.
The Blackhawks have been holding pretty steady at the sixth seed but – like the Stars – they’ve got work to do to secure a spot, which means to keep collecting points and avoid any kind of significant slide over these final 11 games.
Games around the league Thursday night were a mixed bag as far as the Stars were concerned.
The Phoenix Coyotes, playing their second game in as many nights, lost 4-1 at Calgary. The Coyotes remain two points behind the Stars, who now have one game in hand.
San Jose won 2-1 in a shootout over Nashville to move to within three points of the Stars with one game in hand on Dallas. San Jose also moved to within one point of eighth-seeded Colorado and the Sharks have three games in hand on the Avalanche.
Nashville moved to within one point of Detroit for the fourth seed in the West and home ice in the first round.
The Flames, who made it five straight wins with their victory over Phoenix, moved to within one point of eighth-seeded Colorado. The Flames, who play at Edmonton Friday night, have two games in hand on Colorado.
The Avalanche picked up a point Thursday night to hang onto the eighth spot, falling 1-0 in a shootout to New Jersey.
The Kings, who are five points behind the Stars and three points out of eighth, play at Anaheim Friday night.