Thanks to heavy earlier months, the Stars' schedule is slowing down quite a bit. They will play 4 games in 7 days the week of March 27th but otherwise have no more than two games in any week between now and the end of the season.
That's probably for the best as bumps and bruises have added up on both the Dallas and Texas rosters. From the start of the season, Texas is now missing Devin Shore, Travis Morin, Greg Rallo, Radek Faksa, Brett Ritchie and Stephen Johns. The great thing is that the Stars are still winning despite these gaps. Justin Dowling has stepped up since return from injury with a five game point streak. Curtis McKenzie is on a six-game streak himself.
Early cushion in the standings and strong play down the stretch has given Texas a pretty solid chance (I'd put it at greater than 90%) to make the playoffs. Texas would need to lose all but two of their remaining 12 games to miss. They have a good chance to hold home-ice advantage in the first round as well.
Their first round opponent right now would be San Diego (Anaheim Ducks), who are in 3rd and gaining on Texas. Either way, San Diego is a good draw for the Stars, who hold a 5-1 record over the Gulls. It's a five-game series in the first round, so there is no margin for error.
In late night action, Texas got a third period goal but couldn't mount the complete comeback in a 2-1 loss in Stockton (Calgary Flames). Curtis McKenzie had the Stars' only goal as Maxime Lagace took the loss with 35 saves.
The Stars collected a 3-2 win in Stockton to close their season series with the Heat. Derek Hulak had a pair of goals and Curtis McKenzie scored the overtime winner on the power play (originally credited to Ranford). McKenzie and Justin Dowling extended their point streaks to six and five, respectively.
The Week Ahead
Texas returns to Cedar Park for a four-game homestand. Two games on the calendar this week find the streaking Grand Rapids Griffins (Detroit Red Wings) in town on Wednesday and Saturday.
Jesse Blacker and Julius Honka returned to the lineup against Stockton. Greg Rallo and Travis Morin are still out.