The Pacific Division is going to be brutal. Between five of the seven team playing eight fewer games and the obviously travel advantages for those teams, the odds were tilted to begin with.
But there's also an attack from the side that no one foresaw: the Central Division.
The sixth place team in the Central has a better record than the fourth in the Pacific. That triggers a crossover and means that Texas has to be 3rd place or better to make the playoffs.
So it's a little bit of a bad time to have rough goaltending and lose a top scorer.
The good news is that there are several players ready to step up. Brett Ritchie needs to score the big goals he is expected to. He's only had a single goal in his last five games but has shown in the past that he can score in bunches. He had a hat trick in December, for example. Texas needs him to activate.
Another player that needs to activate and has been getting more and more involved is Jason Dickinson. The return from the Jaromir Jagr trade to Boston has prided himself on his defensive game and had a quiet December. He now has three goals and five points in his last four games. Even in the games he hasn't scored, he's been using speed and solid forechecking ability to generate chances for himself that not every player would find.
The final skater is one many Dallas fans might not have heard as much about. 2012 fourth rounder Gemel Smith has had a productive last week. Much of it has to do with the chemistry he's found with linemates Cole Ully and Matej Stransky.
It goes without saying that the Stars could use some stepped up goaltending. With Philippe Desrosiers first AHL game behind him, the next one needs to help prove that he belongs in the AHL and that he could provide real competition in the net in Texas.
Texas Stars Close 2015 With Full 60 Minute Effort, Beat Gulls 6-1
Texas put together one of their most complete games of the season to end 2015 with a 6-1 victory over the visiting San Diego Gulls (Anaheim Ducks). The offensive showcase stretched their winning streak to three, the longest they've had since starting the season 4-0.
"It was a complete team effort from top to bottom," assessed Coach Derek Laxdal. "We had a good start so the confidence came early. Everybody connected."
The Stars got scoring from every line as their speed and hustle outworked the heavy game the Gulls wanted to play.
"Mentally, you're thinking you have to be on your toes more," said Jason Dickinson, who had a goal and an assist. "They want to play that big game and not skill. If you move the puck fast enough, they're not going to be able to finish their checks."
The Stars potted five goals before San Diego found twine once. From the drop, Texas just seemed to be breaking up everything San Diego tried to do and bringing it back against them.
"We were able to generate a lot off the forecheck. We were in the right position to pick off pucks. We were able to create a lot."
Texas Stars Collapse Late, Fall 7-6 in Shootout
After leading 6-3 in the second, Texas dropped tonight's contest in Stockton (Calgary Flames) by a 7-6 shootout final. Goal scorers for Texas included Remi Elie, Gemel Smith, Ludwig Bystrom, Brendan Ranford (2), and Matej Stransky.
Desrosiers' Debut Not So Rosy As Texas Falls 5-1
It wasn't a sparkling debut for Philippe Desrosiers as he stopped just 19 of 24 shots in San Jose (San Jose Sharks). Texas halted their point streak at four with the loss. The only Stars goal scorer was Jason Dickinson.
Ontario Reign Best Texas Stars in Late-Night OT
In a much tighter matchup than the last time the two played, Texas fell this evening to the Ontario Reign (Los Angeles Kings) in overtime to end their road trip. Justin Auger opened the scoring with a pair of goals but not until halfway through the contest. The Stars answered back with goals from two players they need to standout to make the playoffs: Brett Ritchie and Jason Dickinson.
Ontario tallied the final mark in the overtime frame as Auger assisted on the game-winner by Kevin Gravel, scored at 11:36 PM Central time. Auger had a three-point night for the Reign.
John Muse finished with 23 saves on 26 shots. Peter Budaj stopped 30 of 32. The win stopped the Reign's three-game losing streak.
The Week Ahead
Texas comes home to play the Chicago Wolves (St. Louis Blues) twice this weekend in what will be their only game action of the week.
Devin Shore and Maxime Lagace are still out from last week. Add Branden Troock (concussion) and Stephen Johns (lower body) to the list as well.