With a lot of the NHL looking at the trade deadline this week, the Dallas Stars have their eye on a more pressing situation. With management dealing with everything that surrounds a trade deadline, the players themselves are focused on one thing: moving up the Central Division standings.
The Stars are actually in a good position right now. They find themselves in sixth place in the standings and they have games in hand with everyone they are chasing. The bad news is they are currently seven points out of that final playoff spot. So even winning all three of their games in hand with Nashville would still leave them one point out of fourth place.
That’s stuff Dallas can’t worry about right now, though. They need to do the one thing they can control and that is win games. Each time they step on the ice, the goal should be to beat that opponent and let everything else take care of itself. Now, that is easier said than done, especially when you consider the near .500 record the Stars have accumulated up to this point.
Today, the Stars welcome the Florida Panthers to the American Airlines Center for the first of two games against them in three days. Between games, the Stars will have one with fourth place Nashville on the road on Sunday. The margin of error is razor thin if the Stars want to make the playoffs this year.
Potential Dallas Stars Lines
Jason Robertson (21) - Roope Hintz (24) - Joe Pavelski (16)
Tanner Kero (64) - Jamie Benn (14) - Denis Gurianov (34)
Andrew Cogliano (11) - Radek Faksa (12) - Blake Comeau (15)
Rhett Gardner (49) - Ty Dellandrea (10) - Joel L’Esperance (38)
Esa Lindell (23) - John Klingberg (3)
Jamie Oleksiak (2) - Miro Heiskanen (4)
Andrej Sekera (5) - Mark Pysyk (13)
Anton Khudobin (35)
Jake Oettinger (29)
The Florida Panthers
The Panthers have played three more games than the Stars but are sitting 18 points better in the standings and currently tied with the Tampa Bay Lightning with 56 points. Only the Carolina Hurricanes are better in the Central — by a single point.
The Panthers have two players with 42 points (Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau) and they have another player with 35 points (Carter Verhaeghe). Goalie Chris Driedger is only giving up 2.05 goals per game while Sergei Bobrovsky is at 2.80 goals per game. They’ll be hungry to push their way to the top of the mountain with a win today.
Potential Lines for Florida
Mason Marchment (19) - Aleksander Barkov (16) - Carter Verhaeghe (23)
Jonathan Huberdeau (11) - Alexander Wennberg (21) - Patric Hornqvist (70)
Frank Vatrano (77) - Noel Acciari (55) - Juho Lammikko (83)
Ryan Lemberg (94) - Eetu Luostarinen (27) - Owen Tippett (74)
Gustav Forsling (42) - MacKenzie Weeger (52)
Keith Yandle (3) - Radko Gudas (7)
Matt Kiersted (8) - Brady Keeper (25)
Markus Mutivara (65) - Anton Stralman (6)
Chris Driedger (60)
Sergei Bobrovsky (72)