Coming Down to the Wire: Dallas Stars' Playoff Push
Two weeks ago, it was draft talk immersing conversations between Stars fans. This team had traded away big names, top scorers, and not to mention its captain. It was a very bitter and slightly sweet affair, but needed to be done.
Well, here we are in a familiar position of teetering on the edge of playoff berth. One thing to mention before I get into recent days' scores, future scenarios, etc. Think of what this young team, loaded with rookies, will be able to do in a year or two with some added talent in the offseason. Alex Chiasson looks unbelievably promising with his burst of scoring while Antoine Roussel provides a well rounded game which leans to a tough, gritty style of play.
Not to mention Brenden Dillon and Jamie Oleksiak who will be anchors for our defensive game for years to come. Also notable is Loui Eriksson (obviously not a rookie); he hasn't even played his best game this season, but we are aware (hopefully) that he will re-find his play and deliver us that goal scoring, two-way game punch we are familiar with. Imagine the current team with a performing Loui.
Even if Dallas doesn't finish in that eight seed, (Whitney made this point in an interview) management will have a great idea as to what needs to be changed to turn this young group of guys into a playoff contender. We could not have said the same if they were slugging along battling for the top draft pick.
Well, yes they're young, but have been playing like they are fighting for their life. Led by Ray Whitney, Jamie Benn, and Kari Lehtonen, this team has hope. Despite losing to Chicago on Monday and St. Louis last night, the Stars picked up a crucial two points on Thursday against Vancouver and showed they can compete. We know they can.
The Stars control their own destiny (with a Detroit loss in any of their next five), win four and you're in. Sure, a win, or even a point last night would have been huge, but this team just won five straight to even be in this position, they can win four. Battling Columbus and Detroit for that last playoff spot will not be easy, but with Dallas facing both of them down the stretch, there is a decent chance we could be treated with playoff hockey this year.
Do not forget the ROW (Regulation/Overtime Wins) stat which Dallas has an advantage in. It is very possible it comes down to that stat to determine who gets in. I honestly believe it will be decided next Saturday in Dallas as the Stars play the Red Wings at the AAC (the game looks nearly sold out now). The Stars could go into that game down a point or two and still take that eight seed assuming they hold their ROW advantage.
While Columbus currently holds that eight seed, the Stars and Red Wings will both have a game in hand by tomorrow. Detroit plays a huge game tonight against Vancouver (hopefully we made the Canucks pretty angry on Thursday).
The Stars currently have a 26.6% chance of making the playoffs, for all you number crunchers. That will change by midnight tonight depending on what happens in Vancouver. It sure beats 3% thought, right Stars fans?