It’s another big game tonight for the Stars as they take a team they are chasing in the Western Conference playoff race. This time it’s the Phoenix Coyotes, who are in seventh place and four points ahead of the Stars, who are in 11th place after last night’s games.
“We have to start winning these games, not only for who were chasing,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “It’s almost like we don’t know who we are chasing right now. They are a team we could return a favor to.”
Gulutzan’s got a point about the chase. The Stars aren’t chasing any team in particular; they are chasing a spot, the eighth spot in particular. On Wednesday, Phoenix held that spot. Today, Los Angeles is in eighth. If the Calgary Flames win in regulation tonight, they’ll be in No. 8 spot.
That’s why it’s important for the Stars to just win games and get on a run, something they just haven’t been able to do since that 11-3-0 run to start the season. They've had a few decent stretches, but they've been negated by slides. It's all added up to an 18-22-3 mark since those first 14 games. They are 11-14-3 since the Christmas break. They are 6-8-2 since the midpoint of the season.
They are 4-4-1 since the All-Star break and have won consecutive games just once over the last month, and that little streak came with their two victories over the Ducks heading into the break and then coming out of the break.
They haven’t had a three-game winning streak since the middle of December, and that was followed by a 2-4-0 stretch. It’s tough to gain ground and pass teams when you basically are in a win one, lose one mode.
All that said, Gulutzan has seen some positives over the past couple games – the 3-2 overtime win over Calgary and even in the 3-1 loss at Detroit on Tuesday.
“I thought we played well (Thursday) night. We’ve got to start somewhere,” Gulutzan said. “I thought our game in Detroit was indication of us moving forward, but obviously we didn’t get it. Some of the carryover was in that game (Thursday) night. We’ve just got to keep going.”
This weekend brings us to the Stars’ 11th set of back-to-back games this season. They play at Phoenix tonight and then take on the Nashville Predators at American Airlines Center tomorrow evening.
The last one – at Columbus and at Buffalo – was somewhat of a step forward. The Stars picked up three of a possible four points. But they still couldn’t get a win in that second game, and are 0-8-2 in second games.
Here’s a look at the Stars’ record in back-to-backs this season.
Dallas Stars in Back-to-Backs
A look at the Dallas Stars' performance in the first and second game of back-to-back games this season.