Friday, March 12, 2010

Dallas Stars 6 Game Homestand: Make or Break Time

The Dallas Stars are currently in 11th place and starting to fall behind the pace of the teams that are in the battle for the final 2 playoff spots that the Nashville Predators and Calgary Flames currently hold down. For the Stars, the next 6 games will make or break their season as the team has had a strong home record at 18-8-5 while being 6 games below .500 on the road this season.

I think that the Stars need to get at least 9 out of a possible 12 points (4-1-1) during the 6 games to keep up in the Conference Standings, and the team needs to play the best hockey of the regular season. During the teams 3 game road trip to Washington, Pittsburgh and Buffalo that ended with a 1-2 record that where the Stars ended a 13 game home winning streak which was one of the longest home winning streaks in the NHL in the last 15 years.

In the other 2 games, the Stars got crushed by the Penguins as a part of a really bad restart after the Olympic Break where they got outscored 17-5 in 3 games that also included games against St. Louis and Los Angeles. Then against Buffalo, the game started as offense showcase as the game was tied 3-3 at the 1st intermission, in the 2nd and 3rd periods, goals by Austrian Superstar Thomas Vanek and Derek Roy to pull away to win 5-3.

Still, the Stars are giving up way to many shots since the return from the Olympic Break, as the Stars giving up more and more shots during the games blew up against Washington and Buffalo as the team gave up around 50 shots in both of those games.

Despite going down 2-0 at the 2nd intermission against Washington, Stars goals by Brad Richards, Trevor Daley and James Neal all in 6 minutes put the Stars up 3-2. With 3:16 left in the game, Alex Ovechkin scored his 2nd of the night to tie the game at 3-3 to send the game to the SO where SO Goals by Richards and Eriksson to give the team the 4-3 win.

This win was important to give them more confidence to play well on the road on the very hard road trip. With the Stars road woes this season, this 6 game homestand are all against teams that are in different battles for the playoffs. Regardless if it's for another division title, home ice advantage or just getting into the playoffs as well.

It will begin and end with Pacific Division Rivals with the Los Angeles Kings and the Phoenix Coyotes who currently sit 4th and 5th in the Conference and would play each other in the 1st Round with Phoenix having home ice, with San Jose well on their way to winning the Pacific Division and fighting it out for both Conference Home Ice and the Presidents Cup Champions for Home Ice throughout the playoffs.

These teams are looking for 4th place as the Pacific Division Surprises are looking to gain home ice if they have to faceoff in the Conference Quarterfinals. In recent years, games in Los Angeles and Phoenix this time of year really didn't mean that much but for both teams, this year is about reviving teams that have been struggling for a long time.

For Phoenix especially, it's about proving to the NHL that they are back after falling into bankrupt and almost moving to Hamilton, Ontario over the off-season last summer.

Next up is the Colorado Avalanche as one of the biggest surprises in the Western Conference this season who currently sit in 6th place and are 5 points up on Nashville and Calgary and are looking to complete the surprise season to get back into the playoffs this season.

On 3/18 & 20 are the two Eastern Conference Teams as Philadelphia Flyers and the Ottawa Senators as the teams are currently in 5th and 6th as the Senators are looking to overtake the Buffalo Sabres for the Atlantic Division Title and a top 3 playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

For the Flyers in 6th place, they looking to stay away from the gridlock of the Montreal Canadiens and the Boston Bruins from 7th and 8th, more importantly, making sure teams like Atlanta, the NY Rangers and the Tampa Bay Lighting who are separated from 9th to 11th and looking to chase down the top 8 in the Eastern Conference Playoffs.

Like I posted earlier, the Stars need to get 9 or more points in this homestand to keep up with 7th place Nashville, 8th place Calgary and 9th Place Nashville who are separated by just 1 point and to start putting the St. Louis Blues who are in 10th place at 71 points to overtake them in the Western Conference Playoff Races.

If they don't, then you can kiss the Stars Playoff hopes goodbye as the team hasn't been able to prove to win tough games on the road throughout the season. I hope Marc Crawford is telling the players how huge this homestand is because of the position they in and how many points they need to make up.

With just 16 games left in the regular season, it's getting harder and harder to make up these points as the Stars are done against teams that they are battling with the exception of 1 road game left against Nashville on March 23 and St. Louis on April 3 which is 2 days after the homestand comes to an end.

It's now or never, play like theirs no tomorrow in this series or face the prospect of a bad first in Dallas Stars history, by missing the playoffs in back to back years since the team moved to Dallas in 1993.

Here's the Dallas Stars Remaining Schedule

3/12: VS. Los Angeles 7:30 PM FSSW

3/14: VS. Colorado 2:00 PM No T.V.

3/16: VS. San Jose 7:30 PM FSSW

3/18: VS. Philadelphia 7:30 PM FSSW

3/20: VS. Ottawa 1:00 PM FSSW

3/21: VS. Phoenix 6:00 PM FSSW

3/23: @ Nashville 7:00 PM KDFI My 27

2/25: @ San Jose 9:30 PM NHL Network CA & US, FSSW

3/27: @ Los Angeles 9:30 PM FSSW

3/29: @ Anaheim 9:00 PM NHL Network CA, FSSW

3/31: VS. San Jose 7:30 PM KDFI My 27

4/2: VS. Edmonton 7:30 PM FSSW

4/3: @ St. Louis 7:00 PM KDFI My 27

4/6: VS. Chicago 7:30 PM FSSW

4/8: VS. Anaheim 7:30 PM FSSW

4/10: @ Minnesota 7:00 PM FSSW

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