Dallas Stars Posed With Difficult Central Division Test
A new season has begun, and the Central Division is still as strong and powerful as it has been in years past. The Dallas Stars will square up against that power over the next few days.
In every professional sports league, play within division is crucial. For example, if a team wins 75 percent of their games in the regular season, but the majority of their losses are against teams in their division, they have a chance at missing the playoffs.
That’s because postseason seeding is based on a division-by-division basis. In the NHL, each division has three playoff seeds to award to teams. For example, if the Stars go 45-25-12 (102 points) but finish 8-15-6 in the Central, they have a good chance at only gaining a wild card spot.
If you can’t succeed in the division, you can’t succeed overall.
The Dallas Stars learned that firsthand during the 2014-15 season. After clinching a playoff spot in 2014 after a six year drought, the Stars stumbled into a record 8-14-7 against the division. That poor performance was enough to bury Dallas and leave them seven points away from the final wild card spot in the Western Conference.
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They flipped the script in 2015-16. Behind a juggernaut offense and experienced defense, the Stars turned in a 19-7-3 record in the Central. This record helped them to not only claim the Central Division title, but also first place overall in the Western Conference going into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
So as you can tell, divisional play is very important in regards to long term success in a given season. The Stars will now stare down a gauntlet of Central Division opponents over the next few weeks, and it’s imperative that they are prepared to perform and win.
The Stars don’t have the best divisional record so far through the first month at 2-3-0. But there’s still plenty of time to turn it around, and that can start tonight against the St. Louis Blues.
Over the next three weeks, the Dallas Stars will play the Blues (11/3, 11/28), Chicago Blackhawks (11/5, 11/6), Winnipeg Jets (11/8), Colorado Avalanche (11/17), Minnesota Wild (11/21), and Nashville Predators (11/23). That means they will face off with each member of the Central Division at least once before the end of November.
These are eight opportunities for the Stars to beef up their divisional record. Injuries are definitely crippling them, with Cody Eakin, Patrick Sharp, Mattias Janmark, and Ales Hemsky all still on the IR. But wins can still be produced. It will be up to the Stars’ current core to produce them.
It all starts tonight when the Dallas Stars welcome the St. Louis Blues back for their first non-preseason matchup since May 11th when the Blues knocked the Stars out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in game seven.
Will the Stars be able to capitalize in this critical month? Or will they slip up and ultimately fall further from where they once were?
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