Dallas Stars Path to the Playoffs: Stars Have the 2nd Toughest Road Ahead

Ronald Martinez

Dallas has the toughest schedule remaining per opponent point and winning percentage. But they still control their own fate.

When last we examined the Western Conference playoff race, the Stars were a pair of points behind Detroit with a weekend set of back-to-back's against the Predators and Sharks still on the horizon. I suggested at the time of that writing that anything less than picking up 3 points out of these games would constitute fool's gold.

Well, the weekend set has come and gone and for the first time this season, the Stars swept both ends of a back-to-back. That's the first time since last season that the Stars have accomplished this feat.

And when you factor in Detroit's back-to-back shootout losses at home against San Jose and on the road at Chicago? Well, it means the Stars were officially in the 8th and final playoff spot by virtue of holding the tiebreaker over Detroit (ROW) and Columbus (one game in hand).

But can they stay there? After the loss to Chicago and another win by Detroit, the answer is no. But that doesn't mean they can't get back there; the road to that spot won't be easy.

Last week, I pointed out that Dallas' remaining schedule was significantly tougher. Today, I decided to also look at the schedules of St. Louis, Minnesota, Columbus, and Detroit.

The verdict?

GR
W
L
OTL
PTS
WinPct
PtPct
Avg Pts
Phoenix
6
141
81
32
314
0.555
0.618
52.333
Dallas
6
135
86
35
305
0.527
0.596
50.833
Columbus
5
110
76
28
248
0.514
0.579
49.6
Detroit
6
118
104
34
270
0.461
0.527
45
St. Louis
6
116
106
32
264
0.457
0.52
44
Minnesota
5
93
90
30
216
0.437
0.507
43.2

A dangerous road to the playoffs, indeed. But probably not as bad as the Road of Death in Bolivia or the road from Jalabad to Kabul in Afghanistan. I'd say this draws parallels to the Zoji Pass in India.

But I digress.

Anyway, the W-T-OTL-Pts are the combined totals for remaining opponents on each team's schedule. If you want an idea just how much tougher the Stars schedule is compared to the team they're chasing for the 8th seed, just look at the difference in cumulative points. The teams left on the Stars' schedule have accumulated 95 more points that the teams left on Detroit's schedule.

The biggest reason for the descrepancy in the Stars' strength of schedule and the SoS of all the other teams is that the Stars no longer have any games remaining against teams that are out of the playoff race while everyone else has at least one so-called "freebie" against the likes of Colorado, Edmonton, Calgary, or Nashville.

Now before I go any further, let's review the NHL tiebreaking procedures per the official NHL.com website:

  1. The fewer number of games played (i.e., superior points percentage).
  2. The greater number of games won, excluding games won in the Shootout. This figure is reflected in the ROW column.
  3. The greater number of points earned in games between the tied clubs. If two clubs are tied, and have not played an equal number of home games against each other, points earned in the first game played in the city that had the extra game shall not be included. If more than two clubs are tied, the higher percentage of available points earned in games among those clubs, and not including any "odd" games, shall be used to determine the standing.
  4. The greater differential between goals for and against for the entire regular season. NOTE: In standings a victory in a shootout counts as one goal for, while a shootout loss counts as one goal against.

For all intents and purposes, you can skip step 1 since all teams finish the season with 48 games played. We also know what ROW pertains to. Where I want to draw everybody's attention to is the third tiebreaker.

In seasons' past, the exception to the rule in this tiebreaker never applied because everybody played their conference opponents an equal number of games both home and away. The only time there was an odd number of games in a season series involved games against the Eastern Conference when you played an opponent once per season and that was it. And I don't recall an instance where home ice in the Stanley Cup Final ever came down to this tiebreaker.

This season, it could very much come into play due to the fact that every season series with an opponent outside of the division as well as two series within the division involve an odd number of games. For the Stars, this could have some interesting ramifications, depending on who the potential third tiebreaker could be applied against.

And as the bold part of the tiebreaker indicates, the first game played in the city that had the extra home game shall not be included. What this means for Dallas is the following games won't be factored into the tiebreaker against the following opponents should it get this far:

Date Result H/A Opp
Jan 22 W at Detroit
Jan 26 L vs St. Louis
Jan 28
L at Columbus
Mar 25
L vs Minnesota

The good news for the Stars on this front is they still hold a 19-18 lead over Detroit in ROW. And if there is a two point deficit to Detroit, they would need to win in regulation to at least catch them. And doing so would render the 3rd tiebreaker moot, sending the Stars and Red Wings to a theoretical tiebreaker on goal differential.

But that's neither here nor there. The Stars still have 6 very important games to play between now and April 27th. And as of this writing, they're the only non-playoff team that controls their destiny. In fact, even if they lose in regulation to Chicago tonight, they'll still be in control of their fate.

And while I doubt that anybody on the team is into moral victories, it's still something that would have been unheard of 13 days ago after they traded Jaromir Jagr and Derek Roy.

I'll leave you with the magic/death numbers for all the teams in the Western Conference as well as the predicted number of points needed to get a particular seed. Keep in mind, the cut line is currently projected to be 54 points:

Rank
Team
Magic
Number
Elim
Number
1st
2nd
3rd
4th
5th
6th
7th
8th
1
Chicago
Clinch
Clinch
Clinch
Clinch
Clinch
Clinch
Clinch
Clinch
Clinch
2
Anaheim
Clinch
Elim
Clinch
Clinch
Clinch
0
Clinch
Clinch
Clinch
3
Vancouver
2
Elim
Elim
6
4
4
2
2
Clinch
4
Los Angeles
4
Elim
Elim
8
6
6
4
4
1
5
San Jose
4
Elim
Elim
8
6
6
4
4
1
6
Minnesota
6
Elim
Elim
Elim
8
8
6
6
3
7
St. Louis
7
Elim
Elim
11
9
9
7
7
4
8
Detroit
10
Elim
Elim
Elim
Elim
Elim
10
10
7
9
Columbus
10
10
Elim
Elim
Elim
Elim
Elim
10
Elim
7
10
Dallas
12
10
Elim
Elim
Elim
Elim
Elim
12
Elim
9
11
Phoenix
14
8
Elim
Elim
Elim
Elim
Elim
Elim
Elim
11
12
Edmonton
4
Elim
Elim
Elim
Elim
Elim
Elim
Elim
Elim
13
Nashville
Elim
Elim
Elim
Elim
Elim
Elim
Elim
Elim
Elim
14
Calgary
1
Elim
Elim
Elim
Elim
Elim
Elim
Elim
Elim
15
Colorado
Elim
Elim
Elim
Elim
Elim
Elim
Elim
Elim
Elim
X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Defending Big D

You must be a member of Defending Big D to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Defending Big D. You should read them.

Join Defending Big D

You must be a member of Defending Big D to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Defending Big D. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9355_tracker