The Dallas Stars have returned from another road trip with five out of six points. This time, they also came back tied in points for the Western Conference lead. The fact that this seems faintly disappointing is just more evidence that expectations have risen along with their fortunes.
Their Friday rematch with the St. Louis Blues promises to be less a rivalry game, or even a playoffs preview, than a steel-cage death match.
It’s a cliché to say that no one could have seen something coming, except when it’s an outright lie. But the Stars’ ascendance was authentically impossible to predict, and The Athletic’s Sean Shapiro admits as much:
The St. Louis Blues lost to the Nashville Predators on Sunday afternoon and stayed at 74 points. The Stars climbed to 74 points and are now tied for tops in the Western Conference, not just the Central Division, with the defending Stanley Cup champions. St. Louis has the top spot because the advantage in regulation wins is the first tiebreaker.
Earlier this month I said, rather confidently, that I didn’t think anyone would be able to catch St. Louis in the Central and that Dallas and Colorado were just doing long-term jockeying for home ice in the first round of the playoffs.
I was wrong. The Stars are a real contender for the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, and a matchup with St. Louis later this week in Dallas will have a heavyweight feel.
Shapiro’s latest post also contains plenty of coverage of last night’s overtime loss to the Ottawa Senators. Anton Khudobin earned that extra point the hard way, and Shapiro discusses why that’s a great sign for the team’s postseason prospects:
Khudobin is a repetition goalie who tends to play his best with higher shot counts. A high quantity against for him isn’t the biggest concern, even if high-quality shots against can be an annoyance for the goalie.
When you are the backup goalie, you get the second games of back-to-backs, when things get more relaxed and shot numbers rise. If you don’t have a backup who can handle this situation, you aren’t a playoff contender....
In total, Khudobin made 42 saves. In his 10 busiest games this season, as measured by shots against, he’s 8-1-1.
There’s much more in Shapiro’s latest 20/20. [The Athletic DFW]
Mike Heika shares a few thoughts about the Stars’ latest adventure.
Tell everyone Tyler Seguin is here to mess you up, too.
Stephen Johns is all of us right now, probably.
Reminder: The Stars just played three games in four days, which has its consequences.
Bowness: “We’ve got to get some rest. We looked like a tired, braindead hockey team out there at times tonight. That’s going to catch up to you. We’ll go home and we’ll get a day off tomorrow and go back at it on Wednesday.”— Matthew DeFranks (@MDeFranks) February 17, 2020
Around The League(s)
- The Nashville Predators helped the Stars out with a 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues in Bridgestone Arena. [On The Forecheck]
- Mason Appleton and Nathan Beaulieu each earned a goal and an assist as the Winnipeg Jets defeated the Chicago Blackhawks, 3-2. [Second City Hockey]
A lack of public transportation, Interstate 25 construction/congestion and just two entrances/exits from I-25 contributed to angry Avalanche fans with tickets to Saturday’s NHL Stadium Series event at the Air Force Academy’s Falcon Stadium. https://t.co/7AtjhYLsMg— Denver Post Sports (@DPostSports) February 17, 2020
At least it was a great showcase for Tyler Toffoli, who made some NHL history.
The Minnesota Wild have shown Bruce Boudreau the door. Is sell-off mode far behind?
Still a weird decision.
The Wild have fired Bruce Boudreau. On an unrelated note, these are their goaltenders. pic.twitter.com/htLjyLJAql— JFresh (@JFresh1999) February 14, 2020
The Carolina Hurricanes will be the next southern franchise to host an outdoor NHL game.
Update: Jay Bouwmeester is recovering from a successful procedure to implant a device that will regulate his heartbeat.
St. Louis Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, who needed a defibrillator to be revived after suffering a cardiac episode on the team bench during a game, has undergone a successful Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) procedure, his team says. https://t.co/HgckBmm1K5— CNN (@CNN) February 14, 2020
The St. Louis Blues and the Anaheim Ducks have announced a new date for the game that was postponed after Bouwmeester’s cardiac episode.
The Blues-Ducks game that was postponed after Jay Bouwmeester’s collapse has been rescheduled https://t.co/S8pinIWw9E— SI NHL (@SI_NHL) February 16, 2020
It cost them Nolan Foote and a conditional first-round pick, but the Tampa Bay Lightning made a deal for Blake Coleman, and now they may never lose again.
Blake Coleman is a legit stud. There's a realistic chance he winds up being the most impactful player moved at this deadline. Wrote about how underrated he is recently (but actually underrated, not 'SaSHa BArKoV is uNdERRated')https://t.co/aLdvQwhoUu— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) February 17, 2020
The New York Islanders solidified their defence for the playoff push Sunday, acquiring New Jersey Devils captain Andy Greene.https://t.co/QdS9biaXKr— Hockey Night in Canada (@hockeynight) February 16, 2020
For the San Jose Sharks, Erik Karlsson’s season-ending injury is one more kick in the head in a year full of them.