The Dallas Stars are closing in on the end of the regular season. With seven games remaining for the team in Victory Green, things are getting heated as they inch closer and closer to the postseason. The Stars recently went 1-3-1 on their recent homestand that has some (many?) Stars fans a bit nervy as they look at the NHL Wild Card standings. I’m here to tell you to go ahead and put that panic button back in the closet and enjoy these next seven games. Here’s why you shouldn’t be panicking about the Dallas Stars’ playoff hopes.
Recent Homestand Overview
The Stars could have really helped themselves out this homestand in creating much more cushion during these final games. They went a measly 1-3-1, only capturing three out of a possible 10 points. However, if we look at how the Stars performed overall, it really wasn’t all that bad. Here were the results from the past five games:
- 2-1 L vs. Vegas Golden Knights
- 3-2 L (SO) vs. Vancouver Canucks
- 4-2 W vs. Florida Panthers
- 3-1 L vs. Colorado Avalanche
- 3-2 L vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
The Stars scored eight total goals at even strength and let in eight goals against at even strength, which isn’t great... but it isn’t terrible either. They never lost a game by more than one goal (except for the empty net versus the Avalanche). They went 0-12 in power play attempts in games where they lost. They owned 60% of the scoring chances combined in their last five games, which is good for second best in the league during that time. The Stars also had a 54.3% Corsi which, for a team who is usually under 50%, is pretty good in the puck possession department. Jamie Benn, Miro Heiskanen, and Joel L’Esperance dominated in scoring chances as all three of them owned 70% of the scoring chances while on the ice during the five-game stretch.
So, sure, they went 1-3-1 which isn’t great. But it’s not like the team got blown out in any of them. It’s not like the roster was dominated in the shot share or scoring chances. The team were two or three power play goals away from potentially going 3-2 in the homestand. The real issue is the powerplay and yes, Zuccarello can’t come back soon enough.
Looking Ahead and What To Make of Arizona and Minnesota
Now let’s look at the guys on the heels of the Stars and do some math here. The Stars have 82 points with seven games remaining. Both the Coyotes and the Wild have six games remaining and 79 points. To get a good idea of what’s ahead, here’s a great chart by Micah McCurdy (@ineffectivemath).
The Stars’ next seven games are mostly on the road. The road trip will see them face the Winnipeg Jets, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, and the Vancouver Canucks. They’ll return home to play the Philadelphia Flyers at home, play the Blackhawks in Chicago, and finally play the Wild at home.
Let’s say the Stars only win three of these seven: Oilers, Canucks and Flyers. They lose to Flames, Jets, and Wild. And they take the Blackhawks to overtime, but lose again. That’s a 3-3-1 record in their last seven.
That would put the Stars at 89 points.
Arizona and Minnesota would then need 90 points to beat out the Stars since they hold the tiebreaker. That means that they would need 11 points out of their next six games. Minnesota and Arozo would both need to go either 5-0-1 or 6-0-0. Minnesota won’t do it. Do you really think the Wild can go 6-0 against the Predators, Golden Knights, Coyotes, Jets, Bruins, and then the Stars? Very unlikely.
The Stars didn’t get the outcome they wanted during this past homestand, but it’s really not all doom and gloom. Zuccarello is practicing in practice skates and may join the team in the last three or so games, which would give the team a huge boost. The Stars going just 3-3-1 over these last seven games all but assures playoff hockey in Dallas. Let’s do that because it sounds fun.