The stretch run to the playoffs for the Dallas Stars is well underway now. Though there is no magic eight ball or crystal ball or sightseeing ability on this earth that can tell us how the season will end, we can still have a little bit of fun as we look at the last 15 games of the regular season.
So here goes - 15 predictions for the last 15 games of the Stars season, based solely on my own observations covering the team this season and without any scientific method whatsoever to prove them out:
1. Valeri Nichushkin will score a goal. I know we probably say this every game, but he’s looked more dangerous offensively lately than ever this season. Much like Tinkerbell lives if you believe, so too does Nichushkin’s goal scoring.
2. Ben Bishop will finally get recognition for his Vezina-caliber body of work, but it will be too little, too late for voters to put him top three on his ballot (even though he seriously should be in the conversation being on one of the top defensive teams in the league).
3. Dallas will finish the season with a top five penalty kill percentage.
4. The average goals against per game average for the team will be less than 2.50 at season’s end.
5. Julius Honka will play at least two games before the regular season ends. If he doesn’t, that’d be 25 straight games without playing. And the last thing the team needs is a guy that hasn’t seen game play be called upon to contribute in the post season after sitting for so long, as injuries will happen — they don’t call the Stanley Cup Playoffs a “war of attrition” for nothing.
6. Even though he’s been on a bit of a roll in this department of late, Blake Comeau will not average a 2-minute minor per game in every one of the last 15 games.
7. Although he is already skating after breaking his arm 12 days ago, Mats Zuccarello does not play a game for the Stars in the month of March.
8. Dallas will beat two of the three Eastern Conference teams left on their schedule (Florida Panthers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers).
9. Stars fans will get #madonline about something a Canadian broadcast team says about Dallas when they swing through Canada on their last big trip of the season.
10. Mattias Janmark will finally bury a goal on a breakaway chance.
11. No team in the Wild Card race will go on an extended win streak longer than five games the rest of the way.
12. In fact, Dallas won’t win more than five games in a row this season. They haven’t shown the ability to do it yet in 67 games, why start now? So far this season, after each of their string of wins, the team has often lost two or three games before getting back in the win column.
13. The playoff teams in the Western Conference won’t be determined until the last game of the season. There’s just too many teams too close together to think it will end any other way.
14. One team is going to miss the playoffs by one point in the West — and it won’t be the Dallas Stars.
15. The St. Louis Blues will slip out of third place in the Central, and Dallas will draw the Nashville Predators in the first round.
BONUS: the national media will bemoan the lack of potential upsets in the first round in the West.