Dallas Stars Set For Post-Olympic Boost

Jamie Benn and Kari Lehtonen Celebration

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Every team in the NHL knows how critical a solid start to the post-Olympic break is, but the Dallas Stars have a slight edge in achieving that goal.

The Stars begin their post-Olympic schedule with a winnable stretch of games that will provide them with an opportunity to cushion their position in the standings. They are currently in the heat of battle with four other teams for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. They have played fewer games than three of the four teams in the battle for eighth. Three of their first four opponents are not currently in a playoff position. The same can be said for seven of their first 10 opponents after the Olympic break. Only three of the 10 are against Central Division opponents, however. They will play three in a row and six of their first seven games at home where they have posted a healthy 15-9-6 record as of Feb. 28.

Jamie Benn returns to Dallas with the confidence and boost of winning a gold medal. Kari Lehtonen and Valeri Nichushkin did not play much, but they performed well when they did. They return with motivation to keep their solid play going, and Nichushkin additionally wants to show why he deserved to play more. Grinders Antoinne Roussel and Ryan Garbutt had a chance to heal and rest. Older players like Sergei Gonchar, Vernon Fiddler and Ray Whitney recharged for the final stretch.

Aaron Rome and Stephane Robidas are closer to returning to the lineup. Tyler Seguin will aim to keep his impressive season going, especially after not making the cut for Team Canada. Alex Chiasson fully recovered from his sickness before the break, put weight back on and mentally prepared to bounce back after an up-and-down first half.

With a healed and recharged roster and the fate of their playoff hopes in their own hands, the Stars should expect a major boost to start the final stretch of the regular season. They have the tools to make the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Now it comes down to execution.

Mohammad Bakhach is a Dallas Stars writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @hockeyarcher or add him to your network on Google

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