There are 10 games left, and a playoff spot within reach. The Dallas Stars have been here before, but it has not ended well for them the past five seasons.
The race for the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference has come down to the Stars and Phoenix Coyotes, with three other teams falling behind. The Stars have a game in hand and tie-breakers on the Coyotes, but Phoenix is three points ahead. The coyotes have a slightly better record over the past 10 games (6-3-1 compared to Dallas’ 5-4-1), but the next 10 will determine which team has a longer summer.
Of Dallas’ final 10 games, six are on the road; five games are against teams in current playoff positions. The toughest aspects of their remaining schedule are three sets of back-to-backs and two games against the NHL-leading St. Louis Blues. They also face a stretch of four games in six nights next month. The Coyotes have two sets of back-to-backs left and four games against teams currently in a playoff spot.
The Stars have a winning record against only three of the eight teams they will face over the last 10 games. They face a four-game road trip next week against Eastern Conference opponents, and they have gone 2-2 this season against those teams. They hold a 2-4-1 record against the teams they will host down the stretch.
While the numbers and matchups may not seem to be in favor of the Stars, the final game of the season provides hope. The Stars will visit the Coyotes on Apr. 13, and the Stars defeated the Coyotes both times they met this season.
The scenario and fear may be the same as it has been for the past five seasons, but this season’s team is different. There is still hope that the Stars can avoid past meltdowns and push to their first playoff berth in six seasons.