The Dallas Stars are the current leaders in both the Central Division and the Western Conference, and whatever you think about the advantages, the Stars could do worse than to hone their playoffs form by locking up those regular-season titles.
It won't be easy: The Stars are deadlocked with the St. Louis Blues at 45-22-9, although they hold a fairly formidable three-win ROW advantage. The Blues, however, are riding a streak right now, as Mark Stepneski points out:
Both teams hit the 99-point mark Saturday with regulation wins. The Stars won 4-2 at San Jose, giving them four wins in their past five games (4-1-0) and a 7-2-2 mark in their past 11 games. The Blues won their fourth straight game - all by shutout - with a 4-0 win at Washington. The Blues are 10-2-0 in their past 12 games.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Kings have clinched a playoff berth and still have a shot to top the conference:
Los Angeles and Anaheim both won Saturday, so the Kings still hold a three-point edge over the Ducks for the top spot in the Pacific Division. The Kings are four points behind the Stars and Blues for best record in the West with one game in hand. The Sharks lost ground yesterday and are starting to look like they will remain the third seed in the Pacific.
As we await the next action, read more about the race. [Stars Inside Edge]
Mike Heika says the Stars will be reliving the games they should have won if they don't lock up the Central Division. [SportsDayDFW]
Elsewhere, Ryan Kennedy writes about the NHL dads who have helped turn St. Louis into the home of some of youth hockey's best prospects. [The Hockey News]
There's more Central Division action tonight – here's who's playing:
- Winnipeg Jets at Philadelphia Flyers, 6 p.m. Central time
- Colorado Avalanche at Nashville Predators, 7 p.m. Central time
As the Avs fight to take the last wildcard spot from the Minnesota Wild, their task just got more difficult: Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon will both miss "at least two more games" with knee injuries. [NHL]
Is Phil Kessel peaking at the perfect moment for the Pittsburgh Penguins?
Radko Gudas and Martin Hanzal have each caught a break after taking each other's captains out of a nasty Flyers-Coyotes game on Saturday night.
Remember #FailForNail? It appears to be all but officially over between Nail Yakupov and the Edmonton Oilers (the team that should be held up as Precautionary Exhibit A every time an armchair GM insists you take the BPA, every time:
Meanwhile, researchers at West Virginia University and Northeastern University are examining the hypothesis that fighting is an actual deterrent to "bad behavior" in hockey. [Sports Illustrated]
NHL goalie Jason LaBarbera, currently playing for the AHL's Lehigh Valley Phantoms, has led a peripatetic professional life that became infinitely more complicated after his youngest son was diagnosed with autism. [THN]
Team USA takes on Team Canada in the 2016 IIHF Women's World Championship, which begins tonight at 9:30 p.m. Central time (find out how to watch here). Here's how the squad celebrated during an Easter Sunday practice.
Finally: Vernon Fiddler disappointed a lot of Blackhawks fans in their own house last week, and this has earned him immortality in this week's Bud Light Frozen Moment. Enjoy.