Dallas Stars: Pacific Division

A big weekend ahead

April, 1, 2011
After being in 16 straight games – most of them closely fought and a couple being blowout wins on their side – the Stars were due for a clunker and that’s what they rolled out last night in San Jose. Of course, considering the standings and the number of games left, the timing was bad.

It wasn’t a particularly bad start for the Stars, but a breakdown late in the first led to San Jose getting a goal and the Sharks extended the lead in the second by winning the special teams battled. It snowballed from their and ended up being an ugly loss. But a regulation loss is a regulation loss, whether it’s 3-2 or 6-0. The goal differential tiebreaker is unlikely to be a factor at this point.

It’s been said all season that is a resilient group and we’re about to find out how resilient they are. These weekend games at Los Angeles and Anaheim will say a lot about the Stars' resolve and the outcome of the games will say a lot about if the race is on for the last week of the season or whether it is the beginning of the countdown to mathematical elimination.

Right now, the Stars are nowhere close to being mathematically eliminated from the race. Three points out with six games to go and no head-to-head matchups with the team you are chasing is not ideal, but it’s not a disaster and it's not time to start counting the nails in the coffin.

The Stars need some wins (where have we heard that before) and they’ll need some help from other teams, most notably those playing Chicago.

One other note:

The Stars will end up losing season series to every Pacific Division team this season. Both Los Angeles and Anaheim - this weekend's opponents - have already clinched the season series. Phoenix won the season series with their win earlier in the week and so did the Sharks last night. It may look like the Stars won the season series because they had a 3-2-1 record, but they didn't when you add up the points the two teams picked up in the series. A 3-2-1 record equals seven points. San Jose got eight points in the series thanks to a 3-1-2 record against the Stars.

The Stars are 8-9-5 against the Pacific Division this season, while the rest of the division is 14-5-3 against the Stars. That's 21 points for the Stars in divisional games and 31 points divisional foes gathered against the Stars.

Preview: Stars gambling with Kari Lehtonen

August, 11, 2010
Scott Burnside of ESPN.com has completed his preview of the NHL's Pacific Division, and he believes the Dallas Stars have what it takes to contend for a playoff spot this season. A snippet of his analysis:

GM Joe Nieuwendyk has taken a significant gamble that former top draft pick Kari Lehtonen can get the job done in goal even though he has a history of back problems and failing to stay in shape. Still, the Stars have a nice collection of emerging young forwards like Loui Eriksson, Jamie Benn and James Neal, which should keep them in the hunt. Adam Burish comes over from Chicago to add some grit, and it will be interesting to see what becomes of Fabian Brunnstrom -- the much-heralded Swedish free agent of a couple years back who has never quite hit his stride at the NHL level. Although the blue line remains a work in progress, the Stars have enough pieces to challenge for a playoff spot, at least they better if coach Marc Crawford wants to hang on to his job.