The story for the final 10 games of the Dallas Stars regular season is probably going to be pretty consistent - the Stars need to win to pick up points to stay in the hunt for the playoffs.
That's especially true when playing teams immediately adjacent to them in the standings, and you can't get much closer than the Phoenix Coyotes. The Coyotes and Stars are actually tied at 83 points, but the Stars game in hand gives them the tiebreaker for the moment.
The players have repeated over and over again that they want to take things a game at a time, to not get too high after an 11-game points streak or to low after two losses in a row.
But they are willing to admit that tonight's game may go a long way toward determining who makes the post-season.
"Yeah, we’ve been saying that for the last 30 games," Mark Fistric said with a laugh. "But it’s huge. You look at the standings and where everyone is right now, it’s a huge game. Any way you look at it, it is game one of the playoffs for us."
After the jump, more on tonight's game against the Coyotes, Steve Ott is not impressed and team picture day shenanigans.
- The crowds have started to come back to Stars games over the past several weeks, something that pleases Jim Lites but also makes him realize how important winning and making the playoffs are to this town, as Mike Heika details in this paywalled story. [DallasNews.com]
- We've touched on a lot of these guys recently and hope to have even more for you soon, but here's a look at some of the Stars prospects by the numbers. [ESPN Dallas]
- Razor gives his expert analysis on the trade deadline and which moves (or non-moves) have worked out well in the immediately following weeks. [Razor with an Edge]
- Sheldon Souray and Radek Dvorak both skated at practice Monday and are probable for today's game against the Coyotes. [DallasNews.com]
- I'm not sure I quite understand this blog post, and I'm not entirely sure I'm meant to, but it did make me laugh. Steve Ott is not impressed by that. [The Province]
- I love these little weekly history lessons over at Backhand Shelf. Like any good hockey fan, I'd obviously heard of Eddie Shore and some of his more famous (and infamous) exploits with the Boston Bruins. Heck, thanks to the glorious George Plimpton book Open Net, which you should all read if you can find it, I know about his weird techniques with the Springfield Indians. But I didn't know he was quite as much of a masochist as this story makes it sound. [Backhand Shelf]
- The Alexander Radulov story takes another strange twist as it appears is only reason for coming back to the Nashville Predators may be to play out the final games of his ELC so he can become a free agent before returning to Russia. It's totally genius and totally selfish, but I kinda have to admire the moxie it takes to pull it off. [Puck Daddy]
- After reading this story about how Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens traded his goalie stick for a lasso, I think this needs to become a part of the Stars pregame ritual. Heck, it could even help on defense as they go full Dwayne Robertson from D2. [The Globe and Mail]
- I've said it before and I'll said it again - the NHL is tacitly endorsing a return to clutch-and-grab hockey, though they would be loathe to actually admit to it. [International Business Times]
- Meet the enemy, part the first: Dave Tippett just picked up his 400th win as an NHL head coach, and he will try to get No. 401 tonight against the team that helped him get 271 of those victories. [Arizona Republic]
- Meet the enemy, part the second: It's a showdown for first place in the Pacific Division since another team cooperated so nicely on Monday. And the Coyotes have been all over the Stars in their most recent matchups. [Arizona Sports]
- Around the Pacific Division: Dear Anaheim Ducks. I love you. Since you are done with the Stars, please consider beating everyone else in your path for the rest of the season, as you started to Monday with your 5-3 win over the San Jose Sharks. Lots of love, at least for now, me. [San Jose Mercury News]
- Sometimes, when the internet gets completely out of hand with the instant expert analysis, this is what's running through my head as to what's really going on on the other end of the monitors. [Puck Daddy]
- The best parts of this video about the team photo shoot are in the background. Jamie Benn and his gelled-into-submission hair get a mention from Sheldon Souray, who used a little gel of its own from the looks of it, but I was more impressed by the fact that Souray's shoulder pads, which are hanging behind him, might be older than some of his teammates. Also, Mike Ribeiro appears to have busted out the fauxhawk for the occasion. Of course he did.