Dallas Stars Daily Links: Tied At The Top Of The West, The Stars Now Face A Major Test

Friday’s bout with the St. Louis Blues will feel even more like “High Noon” than usual, writes Sean Shapiro. Plus, Stadium Series fallout, the trade deadline sell-off begins, and more.

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]

Stars Stuff

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.

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]/

The Colorado Avalanche lost their Stadium Series game to the Los Angeles Kings, 3-1. As it turns out, that was the least of their problems.

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 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.

The St. Louis Blues and the Anaheim Ducks have announced a new date for the game that was postponed after Bouwmeester’s cardiac episode.

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.

And with captain Andy Greene on his way to the New York Islanders, the New Jersey Devils have put out their “open for business” sign.

For the San Jose Sharks, Erik Karlsson’s season-ending injury is one more kick in the head in a year full of them.

Greetings From Scenic Cedar Park

The Texas Stars suffered their third shutout of the season, and the second to the San Antonio Rampage, on Friday night.