The battle for podium position in the NHL’s Central Division continues apace. The Dallas Stars may not realistically be in on that race at this point. But does that make them fodder for an early playoffs exit at the hands of one of the Real Contenders? Not so fast.
There’s a difference between the Stars and their potential first-round opponents, writes The Hockey News’ Jared Clinton. And that difference is an elite goaltending tandem:
Yes, Ben Bishop fell injured and he’s out day-to-day with a lower-body ailment. And yes, that’s not ideal. But as we explained yesterday, Anton Khudobin is a more-than capable second-stringer who has played incredibly well this season, meaning Dallas has a shot to beat the Jets or Predators or Blues or Flames with either keeper getting the start. And while regular season records might not mean much come the post-season, it’s worth noting that the Stars have proven they can beat all four teams. Dallas’ combined record against the four potential first-round opponents is 11-3-2, with a combined plus-15 goal differential.
Meanwhile, the Colorado Avalanche could benefit from the right matchup if they somehow make it into the first Western Conference wild-card spot:
In four meetings this season, the Avalanche have managed to split the series with the Jets, but more importantly, Colorado holds the edge in goal differential, outscoring Winnipeg 17-14 across the meetings between the clubs. The Jets have had difficulty shutting down the Avalanche’s top scorers, and the two most recent clashes between Winnipeg and Colorado have been decidedly one-sided in favor of the wild-card club. And while the suggestion that the Avalanche can beat the Jets in a seven-game set might get laughed off by some, recall the scare Colorado put into Nashville in Round One last season. The Predators were Stanley Cup favorites, and the Avalanche – without their No. 1 goaltender – gave Nashville all it could handle.
There’s much more under the link. [The Hockey News]
The Stars can close the deal tonight with a win in Rogers Arena. The potential decider against the Vancouver Canucks begins at 9 p.m. Central time.
Here’s a roundup of important stats...
7th consecutive road win? CHECK.— FOX Sports Southwest (@FOXSportsSW) March 29, 2019
3rd win in a row? CHECK.
5 points ahead of Colorado? CHECK.
3 points to clinch a playoff spot? CHECK CHECK CHECK.@BrienRea | #GoStars | @DallasStars pic.twitter.com/hm3FPAo88L
...and a friendly reminder from Tyler Seguin.
Forwards Jason Robertson and Denis Gurianov get lots of love in The Hockey News’ latest prospect rankings.
Around The League(s)
In On The #Kill Taker
- The Nashville Predators are tied with the Jets for the #MDK lead now that they’ve defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins, 3-1. [On The Forecheck]
- Meanwhile, the St. Louis Blues may have left the third-place door open for the Stars with a 4-2 loss to the New York Rangers. [St. Louis Game Time]
- The Colorado Avalanche look determined to finish strong with a 3-2 shootout takedown of the Arizona Coyotes. [Mile High Hockey]
- And the Minnesota Wild kept their own wild-card hopes alive with a victory over the Vegas Golden Knights, 3-2. [Hockey Wilderness]
It’s the Central, so yes, we have no room to breathe, ever.
Quinn Hughes got off to a nice NHL start the other night, so let’s keep an eye on him.
So nice, you gotta watch it twice— Hockey Night in Canada (@hockeynight) March 29, 2019
Defenceman Quinn Hughes has his first NHL point in his first NHL game pic.twitter.com/6NeMqkAJwn
I believe The Kids™ call this a “weird flex but okay.”
THN’s Future Watch 2019 continues with their annual do-over of last year’s NHL Draft.
If you had the chance to re-do the 2018 NHL draft, which players would be selected earlier? Who would fall? We asked a panel of scouts, and here are the results:https://t.co/xHoT9Zkrwm— The Hockey News (@TheHockeyNews) March 30, 2019
Greetings From Scenic Cedar Park
After trailing early in the game, the #txstars come back to score 5 unanswered goals against the Iowa Wild tonight. The win gives Texas sole ownership of 4th place in the Central Division #TEXvsIA— Texas Stars (@TexasStars) March 30, 2019
Read: https://t.co/1vBJ35I5ws pic.twitter.com/MAJ1fZx19T
Ryan Pennington has a first look at tonight’s crucial rematch.
American International College (undergraduate enrollment: less than 1,500) is punching far above its weight in its first NCAA Division I tournament appearance. Enjoy.