At the end of last year, it looked like the Dallas Stars were on pace for a much better regular season in 2015. Though they lost in six games in the first round of the postseason to the Anaheim Ducks, the Stars put up much more of a fight than many experts predicted before the series began.
But this season has seemed anything but smooth at the American Airlines Center. The Stars had a solid start to the season followed by a terrible November with a better December and a so-so January. Currently Dallas sits with 49 points–four points behind the Calgary Flames for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference.
Now with a week off before their next game, it’s time for the Stars to make their run to get right back into the mix for that final playoff spot in the conference.
While the record seems underwhelming, there is some good news when it comes to Dallas. The Stars are fourth in the league in goals per game with a 3.09 average. Center Tyler Seguin is currently tied with New York Rangers left winger Rick Nash for the top spot in the league in goals with 28, and second in the league with 52 points. Four other Stars boast of double digit goal totals so far this season and goalie Kari Lehtonen has managed to bring his goals against average to 2.98, though he still seems to be having issues in net this year.
Also, the week-long break for the All-Star game will be a good time for the Stars to get rest before a tough stretch of games that will either make or break the team’s season. Hockey is a grueling sport and considering Dallas has been playing just about once every two days really since the season began, getting rest and healing will be a good thing for the team.
As will being able to send some of the younger players to its AHL affiliates, the Texas Stars. Texas Stars blog, 100 Degree Hockey, reported Wednesday that Dallas is sending Jykri Jokipakka and Jamie Oleskiak, who has seen significant playing time with the big club, to Cedar Park during the break to get extra playing time, which will hopefully mean more experience and better play for them when the break is over.
Of course, the task at hand for the Dallas Stars is still daunting. The upcoming schedule includes games against a number of leaders in Eastern Conference, including the Montreal Canadiens, Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers. Getting through that chuck of the schedule will be no easy task. And Lehtonen and back up goalie Anders Lindback are going to have to sure up their end in net.
But this is the time where the Stars have to make a run. They’re well within striking distance of the final postseason berth, as they were a year ago, and they need to keep winning in order to keep pace with the teams ahead of them, especially since the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks are among those near the cut line. And a nicely timed run by the Stars could put them right in the thick of the race.