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Scoreboard Watching: Playoff Progress Report

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Another week of incremental progress for the Dallas Stars. Injuries are mounting, and those pesky Predators do not seem to be slowing down. However, the Stars are in the mix.

NHL: Dallas Stars at Nashville Predators
Rookie Jason Robertson keeps finding ways to hit the scoresheet, and is helping keep Dallas’ season afloat.
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

This was… not a bad week? At least not on the ice. Despite setbacks against Florida and Nashville, the Dallas Stars gained ground on three of their four playoff rivals, and for the most part kept pace with the surging Nashville Predators. The Stars also officially bumped up a slot in the crowded Disco Division. Though technically tied on points with the Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas’ superior points percentage nudges them into the number six slot. The injury list keeps accumulating talent, but the Stars are finding ways to snag points. Sunrise on April 4th sees Dallas five points out of fourth place with four games in hand. Difficult? Yes. Impossible? No.

March 28 - April 3

(6) Dallas Stars

Games Played 4

Points Accumulated 5

First, the positive. Dallas passed a team in the standings (Columbus), and beat both Nashville and Carolina in regulation. Both goalies played and played well, and Jason Robertson continues to win hearts and minds in Dallas and elsewhere. So, great week, right? We can just wrap things up. Not so fast. It feels like every light is a train these days. Over the course of the week Dallas lost Radek Faksa and Jason Dickinson (who needs center depth anyways?) to injury, and Anton Khudobin and Rick Bowness to COVID protocols. All of this just in time for a pair of massive games in Chicago. There are no easy weeks for the Dallas Stars, but they are making up ground.

(4) Nashville Predators

Games Played 4

Points Accumulated 6

Change vs. Dallas +1

Everything is coming up Nashville, and that’s a serious problem for the Dallas Stars. The Predators are 8-2-0 in their last 10 games and heading into a 3-game week with a pair against Detroit and the third against Tampa Bay. In other words, there are some easy points on the board, and it is looking less and less likely Nashville ships significant pieces at the deadline. Imagine a world where Dallas converts first-period dominance into a goal or two or manages to avoid bonus hockey and the seemingly inevitable OTL. Those are the margins Dallas is playing with.

(5) Chicago Blackhawks

Games Played 4

Points Accumulated 2

Change vs. Dallas -3

Chicago beat the Hurricanes, but that is about where the good news ends. While points against the upper crust are nice, the fourth playoff spot is going to be earned in the muck and mire. As such, a pair of losses to the Nashville Predators is a catastrophe. Last week, Chicago and Nashville were technically tied in the 4-spot. Now the gap is 2 points. On the menu this week is a pair of must-have tilts against our beloved Stars followed by the Blue Jackets. A huge week.

(7) Columbus Blue Jackets

Games Played 4

Points Accumulated 2

Change vs. Dallas -3

Columbus had a very similar week to the ‘Hawks. While they did manage a regulation win against the all-world Lightning, that was it as far as good news. A 4-1 setback in Detroit stings, as does seeing Dallas pass them in the standings. Life will stay hard, as Columbus sees Florida, Tampa Bay (twice), and Chicago over the coming week. Trade rumors out of Columbus are expected to intensify as they slip further away from playoff contention.

(8) Detroit Red Wings

Games Played 4

Points Accumulated 3

Change vs. Dallas -2

The Red Wings kept a couple of games close this week, but once again lost ground to the gang in Victory Green. Their only victory came against the also-free-falling Columbus Blue Jackets, though they did manage a loser point against the Panthers mid-week. It’s not going to get any easier. This week has a pair of games against the streaking Predators sandwiched between Tampa Bay and Carolina. There are no immediate signs Detroit has the kind of run it would take to lift off from the Disco’s basement.