Dallas Stars Push for Playoffs 2014: Stars Have Deathgrip on Tiebreak Over Phoenix

Patrick Smith

The Stars 5-0 win combined with Phoenix' back to back losses to Winnipeg and Los Angeles gives Dallas a deathgrip on the tiebreaker.

0-2-1.

That's the Coyotes' mark in their last three games. One measly point picked up.

And if you're a Stars fan, you probably can't ask for much more than that since 0-3 with zero points would just be greedy.

Dallas moved into the eighth spot by a single point Tuesday night with a 5-0 win over Washington. A few hours later, they technically held onto that spot by virtue of point percentage when the Coyotes stubbed their toe against Winnipeg in a 2-1 shootout loss.

Wednesday night, the Kings did the Stars a solid by blowing open a somewhat close game in the third period, thus ensuring Dallas would remain in the 8th spot when they take the ice against Carolina tonight. More importantly, it makes it almost impossible for the Coyotes to get the ROW tiebreak should it come down to a tiebreak.

That's because with five games left, Phoenix is four wins behind Dallas in ROW. And they've already lost the season series to Dallas.

For all intents and purposes, the magic number for the Stars to clinch the tiebreak is one (any combination of Stars' ROW wins and games where Phoenix loses or wins a game in the shootout). But what would it take to clinch the eighth spot?

Well, the math tells us that Phoenix can only max out at 95 points. If they were to somehow go on such a hot streak (and keep in mind they've lost three in a row after picking up five out of a possible six points on an East coast roadtrip), Dallas would need to pick up 10 points in their final seven games with at least one win coming in regulation or overtime.

That could be a 5-2 mark, or it could be a 4-1-2 mark, or it could be a 3-0-4. And that's assuming one of the losses is to Phoenix on the final day of the regular season.

You get the idea. Just get to Phoenix' max number of points before they do and you make the playoffs, Stars.

Other points to consider:

* At first glance, it appears that both teams' strength of schedule is pretty even down the stretch. Dallas' remaining opponents have a .486 winning percentage while Phoenix' remaining opponents have a 0.479 winning percentage.

* Phoenix technically has three games remaining against teams that have either clinched a playoff spot or hold down a playoff spot while Dallas only has two such games left. And yes, Dallas is the third "playoff" team left on the Coyotes' schedule with Columbus and San Jose being the other two teams.

* San Jose and St. Louis will have a say in who grabs one of the final wild card spots.

How so?

Phoenix plays San Jose in Game 81. While the Sharks are battling the Ducks for the top spot in the Pacific, they are a point behind the Ducks, who have two games in hand on their neighbor to the north.

If the race for the top spot is decided by then, it's likely the Sharks rest their key players for this game.

That having been said, Dallas plays St. Louis in Game 81. The Blues have a seven- point lead on the Avalanche in the Central and a three-point lead over Anaheim in the West and they could rest their key players down the stretch.

* The combined goal differential of Dallas' remaining opponents is minus-43. For Phoenix, it's minus-56.

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