Last night, I pointed out on the popular DBD Podcast (which includes about 17 minutes of never before heard audio on the DVD bonus section so go download it after you read this post) that exactly 365 days ago, the Stars sat outside the playoff picture with 49 points through 46 games.
This year's obviously been a different story as Dallas currently holds a four point lead on the Phoenix Coyotes for the lead in the Pacific Division with 57 points through 44 games. In addition, they also have a 9 point cushion over 9th place St. Louis.
And since it's been awhile since I've done a points projection spreadsheet, one of my colleagues at DBD asked if I would be so kind as to do an update.
Well, here you go.
But I must warn any Oiler readers that there's some bad news below the jump.
As you can see, the Oilers have officially become the first team in the West that's been eliminated from clinching a specific spot in the standings. In this case, it's the top spot.
Obviously, not shocking news. But for those who had Edmonton will be eliminated from the top spot in the West by January 14th in the 'Teams that will be eliminated from a specific position in the West by a particular date' pool, I'm sure you'll find this information invaluable.
Even more invaluable is the possibility they could be eliminated from clinching the 2nd best record in the West as soon as tomorrow night. But I digress.
Getting back to the Stars, they're projected to hit 106 points. After hitting just 88 points and 83 the last two seasons, that number's a welcome sight for Stars' fans sore eyes. If they do hit that mark, it would be Dallas' highest point total since hitting 107 back in the 2006-07 season when they lost to Vancouver in seven games in the first round.
And because of the success they've had in the first half, the projections show that Dallas just needs to pick up 36 more points in their 38 remaining games to clinch their first playoff spot in three years. That's partially due to the fact the cut line, that looked like it was going to creep up around 97 points after being set at 95 points last season.
At this point now, the projected cut line in both conferences is the same at 93 points.
Also worth noting is the general lack of turnover in playoff teams. Obviously, there's still a ton of hockey to be played this season. But as of now, only two playoff spots have flipped from the previous season. And what's interesting is the flip has occurred within the Pacific Division where Dallas and Anaheim are in while Los Angeles and San Jose are out.
And oh yeah, remember that log jam recently?
Well, it's started to spread out a bit with a 14 point gulf between Vancouver with 62 points and St. Louis with 48.
Now it's not all good news for the Stars, though. It took a two game winning streak over Minnesota and Edmonton to bump the Stars over the '.500' mark when it comes to points earned vs. points given away within the Western Conference. As of now, Dallas has earned 36 points while giving away 35.
And Brad mentioned last night that the Stars have made most of their hay against the East. Even with last Friday's loss at home to the New York Rangers in the shootout, the Stars have still picked up 21 points in their games against the East while only giving away 9.
And they've got another opportunity coming up tomorrow night with the Atlanta Thrashers coming into town.