NHL Dallas Stars

After Letdown in Florida, Dallas Stars Set Up Potential Photo Finish for West’s Final Playoff Spot

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

This past month has been an absolute roller coaster for the Dallas Stars. After surging through late February and early March, the team went through the horror of watching Rich Peverley collapse on the bench during the first period of a bout against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The game itself was postponed, but the event certainly appeared to hover over the team during the next week. Dallas went on a four game losing streak, looking relatively listless.

It appeared the Peverley incident might have gotten to the team, and though it would’ve been completely understandable, it was looking like it was pushing the Stars out of postseason contention. However, Dallas rallied, winning six of their next eight games. All of the sudden, the Stars went from slipping down the slope to sitting in the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. A game yesterday against the Florida Panthers seemed like a perfect opportunity to give Dallas a cushion between themselves and a Phoenix Coyotes club hot on their tail.

Unfortunately for the Stars, it was not to be. The team took a 2-0 lead in the second period, but then allowed the Panthers to score three unanswered. The 3-2 loss opened a window for Phoenix, who now sits just one point behind Dallas. All of this will make for quite an exciting week for both clubs as they fight for the last spot in the west. Making it even more intriguing is the fact that the season ends with a faceoff between Dallas and the Coyotes this Sunday, a matchup which could determine who ends up in the playoffs and who heads home early.

Breaking down the remaining schedules for both clubs, you’ll find nothing but similarities. Both Dallas and Phoenix have games against the Nashville Predators and Columbus. They also each have a matchup against some premier Western Conference teams, with the Stars facing the St. Louis Blues and the Coyotes taking on the San Jose Sharks. After all of this comes Sunday night’s showdown for all the marbles.

As you can see, the remaining schedules hardly favor any team in particular. However, when determining which team has the most going for it at the moment, you have to lean towards the Stars. Even though they’re only one point out, the Coyotes are coming into this week on a four-game losing streak. They certainly have the ability to turn things around, as they wouldn’t be in this position if they couldn’t. That said, any sort of rally will require some intense mental regrouping.

Meanwhile, the aforementioned turnaround has put Dallas in the driver’s seat. One of the biggest factors in their surge is the incredible play they’re getting from offseason acquisition Tyler Seguin. The young winger has been absolutely flourishing for the Stars, currently third in the NHL in overall points. His play, along with the breakout season from Jamie Benn, has gone a long way towards putting Dallas in a position to make the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

After the disappointing performance in Florida, the Stars have created one of the more compelling races of the season’s home stretch. You better believe there will be a ton of scoreboard watching between Dallas and the Coyotes this week. If the teams are still neck and neck come this weekend, Sunday’s matchup between the two will be a perfect finale to the regular season.

Casey Drottar is an NHL writer for Rantsports.com. Follow him on Twitter @CDrottar19 or “Like” him on Facebook