Dallas Stars Playoffs and Division Chances Are Good
The Stars are looking pretty good for both of these performance goals.
Thirty games into the 2015-16 season, the Dallas Stars sit at the top of the NHL with 46 points, a win ahead of the Eastern Conference leading Washington Capitals.
At the risk of getting way ahead of ourselves before 2016 even gets here, I started wondering what exactly the Stars need to do the rest of the way to hit certain milestones.
In the 2014-15 season, the lowest point total to make the playoffs was the 98 points the Pittsburgh Penguins racked up. Out west, the Winnipeg Jets made it with 99. With 52 left to play the Stars need a minimum of 54 points to make it in. Essentially they can play 0.500 hockey the rest of the season winning every other game and remain fairly confident of their chances of making the playoffs.
A points percentage of 0.52 is easily attainable. They would basically need to replicate what the New Jersey Devils have done so far this season over the remaining 52 games, including tonight against the Calgary Flames
We don't want to aim for barely making the playoffs after the crazy good start they've gotten off to, however. Winning the division is a very reasonable goal at this point, albeit difficult still because of the competition. In the 2015 season, division winners averaged ~ 110 points. Should the Stars tack on another 64 points in the next 52 games, they'll be right on track.
A 0.61 points percentage keeps them on that track. Right now the St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks are plugging along at 0.61. In other words, if the Stars drop to their level, they can still expect to compete for the division.
There will be bumps and problems along the way. A 0.77 points percentage isn't going to be what the Stars end up with. The Blackhawks topped it a few years ago in the lockout-shortened season.The only team close to maintaining a record that ridiculous percentage over a full season in the shootout era were the 2005-06 Detroit Red Wings who finished at 0.76.
And how good were they? Just look at the roster. They essentially had eight 60 point scorers. These players didn't score 60 for them: Mikael Samuelsson, Steve Yzerman, Kris Draper, Johan Franzen, Chris Chelios, Jiri Hudler (22 years old), and Valtteri Filppula (21 years old).
There is understandable worry about how the Stars are going to hold up facing a plethora of Central Division games coming up on the schedule. It isn't going to be easy by any stretch of the imagination. The Stars are in rarefied air right now though. How many times do we need to see the graphic showing how this start is better than the start to the 1999 Stanley Cup season start before that sinks in?
What they've done so far is incredible because they've put so many points on the board early that goals successful teams set for themselves seem attainable already even if something goes wrong from this point forward. Inevitably adversity will come for the Stars, but it's going to take some kind of unholy voodoo to derail what's going on to the point that the playoffs aren't happening.
(That's not an invitation, unholy voodoo.)