Sunday, March 07, 2010

Playoffs? Playoffs?

With it starting to look increasingly difficult to get into the final eight to make a run at Lord Stanley, I thought I'd give you a top five of why they will and won't make it into the dance.

Tonight they play the Washington Capitals whom hold the best record in the NHL with their 96 points. It's three more than second place San Jose who lead the west and as Sturm mentioned in the blog below, 12 more than their Eastern Conference counterpart Pittsburgh.

With that said, here are the 5 reasons why the Stars WILL make the post season for the first time in two years. Following the Washington game, I will give you my 5 reasons why they won't make the post season.

  1. After their next two road games the Stars will come home for their longest home stand of the season. A six game set that will start a stretch of 16 games to close the season. They will have been home for 10 of those contests. Dallas is 10-4 in their last 14 at the AAC and they have points in 21 of their last 27 (17-6-4).

  2. Kari Lehtonen has only played one NHL game since April 11, 2009. He stopped 33 shots and beat Tampa Bay as a member of the Thrashers. Because of his back injury, he was limited to being on the ice. As he continues to get himself up to NHL game speed and into playing shape the former 2nd overall pick in 2002 will just continue to get better.

  3. They have been very good on the penalty kill as of late operating at a 86 percent clip over their last 8 games. They pretty much shutdown the Stanley Cup Champ Pittsburgh Penguins power play unit, only allowing a meaningless tally late on the man advantage. They had been getting great goaltending before the break which is key, but they have been great positionally shorthanded, using their sticks to close up passing lanes and solid stops and starts. Meaning when they go to the wall to make contact they get back quickly into position not allowing things to get scrambled and therefore opening up large seems. The Stars also are 5th in the NHL in taking penalties. Their discipline keeps them playing five on five or power play hockey, this could be critical down the stretch as teams tighten up their defense and games become lower scoring and tighter checking.

  4. Although the Stars are 4-5-1 in their last 10 games and have lost three in a row, remember this is still a day to day, week to week race. Before the break they were 9-4-1 an were as hot as anyone. But even after the three losses in a row they are still only six points off the pace. That's because, not a single team that is within 12 points ahead of them has a better record than 6-4 in their last 10. That's Los Angeles, who is 6-3-1 and is in fifth overall. The teams the Stars are competing with, St. Louis, Calgary, Detroit, Minnesota, Nashville, and Anaheim have been mired in mediocrity. All those teams with the exception of Nashville are within three wins of the Stars

  5. Although they have a tough schedule on the horizon they do close the season with four of their final five games against teams that are below them or out of the playoff race. Those points could be crucial if they can stay close going into the final two weeks. If you look at the final 7 games, they play Anaheim twice, St. Louis, Minnesota, and a must win against Edmonton. They do play San Jose and Chicago in those final 7, but possibly in a meaningless games for the Hawks and Sharks as they may have the one and two seeds locked. That would help the Stars, as they have already played both those teams tough!

So that's my stretch of an argument of Why the Stars will make the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Tomorrow the Top 5 Why they WON'T make it! That might be easier.

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