The subsequent 9 video games are an unlimited likelihood for the Dallas Stars to construct a cushion within the standings earlier than they face a troublesome stretch, writes Adam Proteau.
The Dallas Stars haven’t precisely lit the NHL on fireplace of their 10 video games earlier than the all-star break: though they entered the break on a two-game win streak, the Stars have been simply 5-2-3 of their previous 10 video games.
Fortunately for them, they’ve been the Central Division’s most persistent group this season, and so they’re now a full 5 factors forward of the second-in-the-Central Winnipeg Jets, and so they’re getting into a portion of the season by which they need to be including to their lead.
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To wit: in its subsequent 9 video games, Dallas begins with a tricky three-game stretch in opposition to Tampa Bay, Boston and Minnesota. Nevertheless, after that, the Stars tackle Columbus, Chicago, Vegas, Vancouver, Arizona, and Chicago once more. That makes 5 of six in a row that they need to win. If they will earn not less than one level in these first three video games – the identical approach they’ve earned one level in every of their previous three losses – after which take advantage of the showdowns with groups they completely should beat, the Stars are going to stay at or very close to the highest of their division.
This crew has roughly $1.6 million in wage cap area to play with by the league’s March 3 commerce deadline, per CapFriendly. That isn’t rather a lot, however an sincere appraisal of Dallas’ roster makes you marvel which a part of their lineup actually wants a variety of assist.
Positive, the Stars might add some depth assist in their bottom-six group of forwards or their bottom-two protection pairing, however you possibly can say that of most groups. Most of these groups shouldn’t have the depth of top-end expertise Dallas possesses.
Most groups shouldn’t have a younger, rising-star goaltender, however the Stars certain have one in Jake Oettinger. Most groups shouldn’t have a slick, expert No. 1 defenseman, however the Stars have one in Miro Heiskanen. Most groups don’t have a super-sniper ahead, however Dallas has one in Jason Roberton. And most groups don’t have a dynamic mixture of the younger (together with heart Roope Hintz and 19-year-old Wyatt Johnston) and the not-so-young (Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, Ryan Suter, Joe Pavelski) that the Stars have.
Dallas’ third defensive pairing, particularly, may benefit from a commerce acquisition, and the Stars nonetheless have their 2024 and 2025 first-round draft picks to dangle in lieu of NHL-capable expertise to supply to commerce companions.
But when the playoffs started as we speak, you wouldn’t need to be the eighth-place crew that the Stars face in Spherical 1. Barring one unexpected calamity or injury-related catastrophe, the Stars shall be favored in opposition to nearly some other crew within the Western Convention.
Dallas is a constant crew – they’re 15-5-6 at residence and 15-8-4 on the highway – and so they’re a well-coached crew that may maul you with their offense and/or flip the screws on you in your offensive zone with tight backchecking and sound positional play.
Oettinger is a needle-mover, however he wouldn’t have the numbers he has (.926 save share, 2.22 goals-against common) if it weren’t for the defensive efforts of the protection corps and the all-around accountable forwards.
The schedule will get significantly harder for the Stars of their second stretch after the all-star break. They’ll battle in opposition to Colorado, Buffalo, Seattle (3 times), Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Pittsburgh. The Canucks are the lone crew that must be a ‘gimme’ recreation for Dallas. Because of this these first 9 video games are so essential for the Stars the remainder of the best way.
In the event that they emerge victorious in most of their first 9, they’ll have a cushion for the second nine-game portion of the schedule. In the event that they don’t, all of a sudden, the Stars might lose home-ice benefit within the Western Convention in the event that they slide down the Central standings.
Few groups so far are in must-win mode, however there are just a few, and Dallas isn’t considered one of them. The Stars are one of the crucial harmful groups within the West, and so they’re the crew that has one of the best likelihood of eliminating the defending Stanley Cup-champion Avalanche within the convention. These subsequent few weeks imply rather a lot for the Stars, and it will likely be riveting watching them rise to the problem or fall beneath the stress.
- Dallas Stars Ought to Money In on Consistency Earlier than March
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