The fate of the Dallas Stars
The fate of the Calgary Flames
could lie in the Stars, too. A Dallas win over the Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Monday night would all but put an end to the playoff aspirations in Calgary.
Stars forward Eric Nystrom
is well aware of that.
"We know we have a chance to put a team that's competing with us out of the picture -- or almost out of the picture," Nystrom said. "It's huge. We're battling for our lives just like they are. You just have to win hockey games."
The Stars currently hold down top spot in the Pacific Division, but are just four points up on the 11th place Flames with the Phoenix Coyotes
, Los Angeles Kings
, San Jose Sharks
and Colorado Avalanche
scattered in between.
"We know what the standings are, we know what our position is, we know what we're trying to accomplish," Sheldon Souray
said. "We'll take it one game at a time, and if it means going through Calgary and having one less team in there, perfect. Every night we have our work cut out for us, but obviously the fewer teams in there the better our chances are."
But a win over Calgary isn't all about ending the Flames hopes, according to Jamie Benn
"We know what we can do, but the biggest picture is the two points and that's what we're going for," he said. "We have to keep climbing, keep playing our game, and hopefully have a strong push for the playoffs."
A strong push from here on out is critical if the Stars hope to have success given the proximity of how teams are situated.
"We're sitting in a position where everything is so ridiculously tight," Steve Ott
said. "Their life is on their line. Our life is on our line as well. There are only so many games and so many points left in the season. The tightness is only going to continue to go until Game 82.
"If we continue to get points we'll figure it out by the end of the standings. It puts us in control of our own destiny."
It's something Stars coach Glen Gulutzan has been preaching to his club.
"We've got to help ourselves," Gulutzan said. "Anytime you start worrying about those other teams they keep winning. We've really had to look internally in our group to make sure we get points. Truthfully in our locker room all we're talking about is getting points. We've got to get points in every game we play. We can't look around and watch scoreboards."
It boils down to simple math to Nystrom.
"If you win, you're in," he said. "That's the way it works the whole year. It's no different right now. If we win games we're going to be in the playoffs."
And if the team happens to dismiss a few opponents along the way?
"It's nothing personal," said Nystrom, a former member of the Flames. "This is my team. I want us to make it. That's just an opponent that's standing in our way. It's nothing personal against them. I want my team to make it."