So while the Stars have played division rivals the Chicago Blackhawks four times already during the early days of this season, they have yet to face another division rival, the Nashville Predators. Had you even remembered that the Perds were a division rival?
Well they are. And they're also a Western Conference bubble team. Making this rather an important matchup. Although, by that logic, the majority of matchups are rather important. A quick look at the picture?
The top five teams in the Western Conference based on winning percentage are Chicago, St. Louis, Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Jose. The two teams at the bottom of the conference who have looked the worst are Calgary and Edmonton. That's seven teams. Half of the Western Conference. If you assume those top-five teams will advance to the playoffs, and the two basement dwellers will not, you are left with three spots for the remaining seven teams. Those teams are Colorado, Phoenix, Minnesota, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Nashville and Dallas. If you're the Stars and are realistically looking for the six teams that you have to beat for a playoff spot, the majority of them reside on that list. And starting on Thursday, the Stars play five games in eight days, all against "bubble teams." [On the Radar]
Five games against bubble teams, and then four of the following five are against Western contending teams. Time to put the ghosts of that tonking at the hands of Chicago to one side and see how the Stars line up against their peers. For better or worse though, in this next week we should at least see some movement in the standings.
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Mark Stepneski talks about the key games coming up on the Stars' schedule. [Stars Inside Edge]
30 Thoughts! And look, Jamie Benn is the focus of three of them. [CBC]
It's still early, but it's hard to avoid doing a little standings watching. And the Stars are still hovering in the same spot they've been for some time... [Sports Day DFW]
Alex Goligoski is up to a plus-3 on the year. Considering how slow his start to the season was, that's some pretty impressive improvement. [NHL.com]
The Stars obviously won the summertime trade with the Boston Bruins, right? Then why are Bostonians speaking so highly of Reilly Smith? [Rant Sports]
The Anaheim Ducks can't lose. At least at home, where they have yet to lose in regulation this season. [Anaheim Calling]
I was more interested at the beginning of the season, but I'm still somewhat interested now. John Tortorella is acting like a coach and changing things in Vancouver. But how? [Kukla's Korner]
So it turns out that Antii Raanta guy, the one the Stars faced in the Chicago net the other day, is pretty good. Or at least, small sample size would suggest that. [Puck Daddy]
And lastly, Down Goes Brown playing Debbie Downer, and here presenting you with disappointing gifts to the discerning hockey fan. [Grantland]