FanPost

The Sprint to the Finish

Dallas is looking at a fantastic opportunity to make the playoffs this year. They have played 75 games and have 85 points to show for it. Their only major competition for the final playoff spot is the Phoenix Cockroaches Coyotes.

As it stands on April 2, 2014, Dallas has (7) games left in their season. They hold a slight edge on Phoenix who has the same number of points (85) but has 1 less game left to play.

Let’s look at both their remaining schedules:

Date

Dallas Remaining Schedule

Phoenix Remaining Schedule

4/2/14

(at) LA Kings

4/3/14

(at) Carolina Hurricanes

4/4/14

Edmonton Oilers

4/5/14

(at) Tampa Bay Lightning

4/6/14

(at) Florida Panthers

4/7/14

4/8/14

Nashville Predators

(at) Columbus Blue Jackets

4/9/14

4/10/14

Columbus Blue Jackets

(at) Nashville Predators

4/11/14

St. Louis Blues

4/12/14

San Jose Sharks

4/13/14

(at) Phoenix Coyotes

Dallas Stars

Here is what is cool about the remaining schedule. Dallas has (as of right now) one game in hand that they don’t need to win. Dallas holds the ROW tie-breaker (34-30) over Phoenix and it is almost impossible to lose that tie-breaker by the end of the season. So if Dallas loses their next game, they are still technically right alongside Phoenix (and more importantly, ahead of them in the standings).

The remaining schedules can be broken into (3) major parts.

  1. Dallas’s next (3) game road trip and Phoenix’s next (2) games.
  1. The Nashville-Columbus do-si-do.
  1. The "hard" game followed by the big tamale.

What is cool here is Dallas holds an advantage in all three major parts.

In the first part, Dallas plays (3) road games against the Eastern Conference: Carolina, Tampa Bay and Florida. Two of these games are against teams (Florida and Carolina) almost assured of finishing outside the top 8. Phoenix has just (2) games during this stretch, in LA tonight and against Edmonton at home. Phoenix, not likely to lose both, will either win both games or drop the LA game tonight (probably in the shootout). Assuming Phoenix only picks up 3 out of 4 potential points (goes 1-0-1), all Dallas needs to do is go (1-1-1) in the next (3). If Dallas picks up any more points than that, it is just gravy and allows them more margin for error at the end of the year.

In the second part, it is a square dance exercise. Dallas plays Nashville and Columbus in that order, and Phoenix, on the same nights, plays Columbus and Nashville, also in that order. The only difference is Dallas’s games are both at home while Phoenix’s games are both on the road. Does one (or both) of these teams play spoiler for one of our playoff pursuing combatants?

In the third part, (2) games remain for both squads. It is very, very likely that nothing will be decided till these last (2) games, and they are both strikingly similar end for these clubs. Dallas squares off against St. Louis, with Dallas holding the edge in the season series (2-1-1). Phoenix squares off against San Jose where they are a very even (1-1-1) in their season series. Both St. Louis and San Jose will be preparing for the playoffs, with St. Louis battling Boston for the Presidents trophy and San Jose looking to take the Pacific Division Crown, so don’t look for either team to take the night off.

After the "hard" game, Dallas and Phoenix finally get to point their cannons on each other. Do you think there is any way that the league office scripted this? Clever scheduling leads up to the battle royale and the winner very well could find themselves in the playoffs. Dallas also holds the lead in this season series (2-0-0).

If I were Dallas, I would work my butt off to make that last game meaningless. If Dallas gets to that game with at least (2) points up on Phoenix in the standings, then the result doesn’t matter; win lose or shootout, Dallas will secure their first playoff spot in (5) seasons.

If Dallas is not so fortunate and allows that last game to have any bearing on the final playoff spot, it spells doom for the Stars. Can you imagine a scenario where Dallas and Phoenix enter the last game of the year tied in the standings? The winner of the game takes the whole bag of marbles? Yes you can. And you know what will happen, the game will go to over-time and Oliver Ekman-Larsson will bury the game winner and Dallas will miss out on the playoffs for a 6th straight season and the NHL network will eats up the coverage and NHL.com has the breaking news story headline: "Drama in the Desert" or "Storybook Ending" or "Desert Dogs Deny Dallas" and Pierre Lebrun and Scott Burnside write a whole book about the Coyotes and how they are a team of destiny and how Dallas is still 1-2 years away from making the playoffs...

Sorry….ran off on a bit of a tangent there…

Let's just end with an open letter:

Dear Dallas Stars,

Please, for the love of the hockey gods, don’t let that game at the end of the season mean anything. Even if the game does mean something and you still manage to beat Phoenix in their building to kick them out of the playoffs for good, my heart will spontaneously combust and my brain will liquefy at some point before that game is over. And no one wants to see that, much less clean that up.

Sincerely,

Miles17 (and all other Stars fans)

This is a user-created FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of SB Nation or Defending Big D. FanPost opinions are valued expressions of opinion by passionate and knowledgeable hockey and Dallas Stars fans.

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