Do The Stars Elevate Their Game Against the Top Teams?

DALLAS - MARCH 31: Steve Ott #29 of the Dallas Stars shoots defended by Dan Boyle #22 of the San Jose Sharks at American Airlines Center on March 31, 2010 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

In two weeks, the Stanley Cup playoffs will start, and teams at the bottom half of the conference will try their hand at the time honored tradition of taking down the top seeds. Seemingly every spring, the have-nots and the rivals watch the Wings or the Sharks (or the Stars) fall flat in the first round. Dallas has been on both sides recently, taking down the #4 Ducks in 2008, and being beaten as a second seed in 2006 the year all four top seeds went down.

You can't help but feel that this year presents a real wasted opportunity in this regard. Dallas is 4-2-0 against the Sharks. How would you feel about a #1 vs #8 matchup against San Jose? They're 2-0-1 against the Blackhawks. They'd have a pretty legit chance in that series as well. The Stars are a collective 7-2-1 against the top three teams in the league (San Jose, Chicago, Washington).

The playoffs are a different animal of course. And in the NHL (in the playoffs especially) past performance is never a good indicator of future success.

Still, as a fan I can't help but feel that Dallas would have relished that role and performed well in it.

Let's expand the evidence a little bit and take their record against the top 10 teams in the league and the bottom 10 teams...


Dallas Stars Against the Top Ten in the League

Rank Team                             Points Wins Against Losses Against OTL Against
1 Washington 110 1 0 0
2 San Jose 104 4 2 0
3 Chicago 101 2 0 1
4 Phoenix 100 2 3 1
5 Vancouver 96 1 2 1
6 Buffalo 96 0 1 0
7 Pittsburgh 95 0 1 0
8 Nashville 94 2 1 1
9 New Jersey 94 1 1 0
10 Detroit 93 3 1 0

OK. So when you throw in pretty awful marks against the Coyotes and the Canucks, you start to take some of it back. They've not fared well against those teams anywhere, at any point in the season. Still, Dallas carries a .563 points percentage against this chunk of teams, the current top ten in the league.

It's not entirely clear whether or not we should be proud of it or if it should make us that much angry at the glaring inconsistency.

Move on to the next ten teams...

Dallas Stars Against the Middle Ten in the League

Rank Team Points: Wings Against Losses Against OTL Against
11 Los Angeles 92 1 2 3
12 Ottawa 89 1 0 0
13 Colorado 89 1 3 0
14 Calgary 87 3 0 1
15 St. Louis 83 1 1 1
16 Montreal 82 0 1 0
17 Dallas 82 X X X
18 Philadelphia 82 0 2 0
19 Anaheim 82 3 1 1
20 Boston 82 0 1 1
Total: 10 11 5

This is a mostly mediocre bunch, but it includes a couple of teams that have not been mediocre for long: The Avalanche and the Los Angeles Kings, who realistically should be counted in the previous tier, at least, for most of the games the Stars played against them. (They were top 10 teams then)

A combined 2-5-3 against just those two teams drags this group down to a 10-11-5 record for the Stars and a points percentage of .480.

So maybe they haven't been all that great against the top teams.

What about the bottom of the barrel?

Dallas Stars Against the Bottom Ten in the League

Rank Team Points: Wings Against Losses Against OTL Against
21 Minnesota 80 2 1 0
22 Atlanta 80 0 0 1
23 New York Rangers 78 0 1 0
24 Columbus 77 1 3 0
25 Carolina 75 1 1 0
26 Tampa Bay 74 1 0 0
27 Florida 72 0 0 1
28 New York Islanders 72 1 0 0
29 Toronto 69 1 0 0
30 Edmonton 55 1 0 2
Total: 8 6 4

8-6-4 looks like a "winning record" (.556) in the NHL, but you can also look at it and say they won 8 games and they lost 10. There's also a lack of opportunity against the really bad teams because the Eastern conference (thanks again, Eastern Conference) is a little over-represented here.

That 1-3 mark against Columbus hurts too. For a team that struggled mightily all year long, they still managed to get up for the Stars every time.

The record against the top tier holds up as the best points percentage (.563) and has the largest sample size (32 games) but it wasn't anywhere near enough to get the Stars close to the post-season.

As we start to autopsy the team in the coming weeks, I expect we'll continue to see that their best numbers in whatever category we pick will prove to be mediocre to the nth degree.

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