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Strength of Schedule Gives Dallas Stars a Chance in Western Conference Race

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It's not the strength of schedule measurement you might expect, however...

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Humor me for a moment on a gloomy Saturday afternoon.

There are two schools of thought forming regarding the remainder of the Dallas Stars schedule as the Olympic break approaches- One that presumes the playoff race is going to get away from them in the end, if it hasn't already, and one that holds on to hope, because it's barely February.

The former is already shopping UFA's. The latter was glad to see the Canucks lose last night, as the Stars sit just six points back of eighth place with two games in hand.

They're all going to end up in the same camp eventually, and we think we know which one it is. Nevertheless, I saw this yesterday and thought it worthy of a brief thought or two...

S/T to Pat for retweeting it and Travis for posting it.

It's not strength of schedule in the traditional sense (points percentage), but rather a look at the possession metrics, in this case the % of shot attempts a team takes versus its opponents, to put it as simply as possible. It's notable, or at least slightly favorable for those of us grasping at straws, because the Phoenix Coyotoes and the Minnesota Wild appear to have a tougher task ahead of them than do the Stars.

Now, it's a couple of percentage points either way, so if you want to approach that with a measure of cynicism, I support you. The Avalanche have poor metrics this season and continue to plod along on the strength of their goaltending, as Dallas saw up close, again, on Monday night. So this could mean next to nothing.

Phoenix is catch-able before the break, as the Stars face them twice in the coming week. They also get the Penguins, Blackhawks and Avalanche before the break.

The problem is trying to get through this four-game Pacific Division stretch ahead of the break, starting with the Ducks tonight.

Are you still hoping or are you resigned to the usual fate already? Tonight's contest, coming off that awful performance against the Devils, should tell us a lot about their stomach for the fight these next four games, and that in turn will color Jim Nill's Olympic break mentality.