That was a sound job on defense last night, especially by los dragones de suerte. Hemsky scored a goal that shouldn't go in, and Roussel found himself with a rebound of rebounds while King Henrik was AWOL. Hey, about time they got some of those going their way, right? I don't know, actually. But they did get them, so that is good. Also, John Klingberg scored a goal. I'm going to have to find a reason to have a party to celebrate that, maybe Wednesday. Anyone busy?
For one, the sheer volume of games make divisional success pivotal. Beginning this weekend, 18 of the final 46 Stars games are against division rivals. That comes out to more than 39% of their remaining schedule. Those numbers are even more compacted in the immediate future. Six of the first nine games in 2015 are versus the Central.
In addition to the number of meetings, results against the rest of the division are key because of the importance of those games. As Dallas attempts to climb back towards a Wild Card spot, they will be trying to jump past Central Division teams like the Winnipeg Jets, Minnesota Wild, and Colorado Avalanche. Their upcoming games against those clubs provide the Stars with an opportunity to advance their position while preventing those they are racing with to do the same.
The schedule won't be a walk in the park for Dallas. The Stars went winless in their first ten divisional games, in part, because of a number of issues the team was trying to correct. However, also playing a factor was the strength of the Central Division. The Stars were outscored 40-18 in those first ten games, a number that predictably translated to a very poor .150 points percentage. [Stars]
At 37 points, the Stars are six points back of a playoff spot right now, although four teams are tied with 43 points in the Pacific. As Bogorad points out, the Stars are going to have a chance to take points from a lot of Central teams over the next couple months. If you missed it, all six of the other teams in the Stars' division played each other last night, with one team getting a loser point (Nashville, of course). The Stars can gain ground when the chips fall their way like this, but there's a mighty big hill to climb before they can start looking back at the teams they've passed on the way.
Unfortunately, by failing to withhold almost any points from Central teams prior to the victory against the Blues, the Stars are now in a position where they need to win any games they can. These last two victories are examples of those crucial points these days. Eastern Conference, WHL, hall soccer, whatever it is, more than trying to leapfrog specific teams, the Stars just need to start piling up points and avoiding the L column for as long as possible. Giving your rivals a head start is a bad idea, turns out.
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The Stars are finally turning things around, which is kind of what they had to do this month in order to enter the new year with a prayer of playoff hockey. [The Hockey Writers]
How did Kari only get the number four spot on this list? [Puck Daddy]
Missed this yesterday, but Ralph Strangis has an exceptionally interesting mini-podcast about the Stars-Rangers history. Check it out while you give some of last year's presents to Goodwill. [Stars]
Lindy Ruff confirmed that the Stars are going to ride Kari Lehtonen until he runs out of gas. [DMN]
Jasons Walsh and Danby are still keepin' it real on the AAC 'tron. This was from last night's tilt against New York. [Twitter]
Mikael Granlund is going to be out at least a month after undergoing wrist surgery. [Pioneer Press]
Continuing the trend in Winnipeg, Evander Kane is out until February after blocking a shot. Winnipeg also lost to Minnesota last night, so basically it's time to pay the piper, Jets. [Arctic Ice Hockey]
Rumor has it that Ryan O'Reilly is available for a defensemen. Winnipeg may be among those interested. [Puck Daddy]
Speaking of defensemen, is it possible to award the shutout against Colorado to the Blues' defense instead of Brodeur last night? Stopping 16 shots was impressive back in like, 1997. [NHL.com]
The Oilers claimed Matt Fraser off waivers from Boston, but the more interesting move was that they chose not to claim Derek Roy (also on waivers), instead trading Mark Arcobello for Roy after he cleared. [Oilers Nation]
Despite his "down" year, Sidney Crosby is still scoring goals like this one last night. Good heavens, what a talent. [THN]
Slava Voynov plead not guilty to his domestic violence charges, so a jury trial has been set for March. Now tell me that doesn't sound like a CBS procedural! [LA Times]
Finally, Johnny Boychuk ruined the Capitals' Winter Classic prep time with this OT goal: