Sunday, April 1, 2012
Playoff watch: Stars on the outside looking in
By Mark Stepneski
The Dallas Stars are on the outside looking in at a playoff spot for the first time in more than a month. Saturday was not a good night for the Stars. Among those Pacific Division teams battling for the third, seventh and eighth spots, they were the only team not to get points.
Their 3-0 loss to the Sharks dropped them down to ninth, one point behind the now eighth place Sharks. Tuesday is basically a must-win game for the Stars. The Sharks need the win, too. It’s not like they are out of the woods because they won Saturday.
The Kings lost in a shootout to Minnesota Saturday, but the point they picked up kept them in first in the Pacific Division. Phoenix, a 4-0 winner over Anaheim Saturday, tied the Kings at 91 points. Both teams have 33 regulation/overtime wins, so it went to the next tiebreaker, which is the head-to-head matchup. Both teams won three games, but the Kings were 3-1-2 and the Coyotes were 3-2-1 and the Kings win the series 8 points to 7 points. And people wonder why I put the records for the season series and not just the wins in game previews.
But the bottom line is the race is still tight. None of those four teams has anything secured yet and none of them is out of the picture yet. The standings have shifted a lot this past week and they can shift a lot over this final week.
Some other notes from Saturday night:
*Chicago clinched a playoff spot with a 5-4 victory over Nashville.
*Vancouver took over the top spot in the West, beating Calgary 3-2 in overtime and getting some help from Columbus, which beat St. Louis 5-2.
*The Flames, by the way, were officially eliminated from the playoff race with the OT loss to the Canucks.
There’s still a pretty good battle for that fourth seed and home ice in the first round. Detroit and Chicago both are one point behind Nashville. Detroit hosts Florida Sunday and Chicago hosts Minnesota.