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Down to the wire

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

The race for the Central Division and the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference appears to be going down to the wire. St. Louis rallied to beat Arizona, 5-2, last night to tie the Stars at 105 points with two games remaining for both teams.

Nothing much has changed in the race, though. The Stars are still in first place in the Central and still hold the No. 1 seed in the West because they have a 46-43 advantage in the regulation/overtime wins (ROW) tiebreaker. And the Stars still control their destiny. If they win their final two games, they will win the division and the top seed.

The Stars’ next game is Thursday when they host Colorado. St. Louis’ next game is Thursday as well, and they will be playing at Chicago. The Stars magic number is still four points. A Dallas win over the Avalanche Thursday and a St. Louis regulation loss to Chicago would seal the deal for the Stars – they’d take the Central and top seed in the West.

According to sportsclubstats.com, the Stars have a 76 percent chance of winning the division. Hockeyreference.com gives the Stars a 69.9 percent chance of winning the Central.

The Blackhawks are six points behind both the Stars and Blues, but they are mathematically alive in the race for the division title and top seed in the West. Their chance to pull it off is extremely slim. They have a better chance – although still slim - to move up to second and get home ice in the first round. They’ll need to win tonight against Arizona and then beat St. Louis in regulation Thursday to make it interesting.

Minnesota has another chance to clinch the final playoff spot in the West tonight. There are a few ways the Wild can capture the spot, including with a win over San Jose. Colorado, which is five points behind the Wild, plays at Nashville. The Avalanche have little margin for error now, and they have to hope Minnesota collapses over its final two games.

In the Pacific Division, the Kings lost to Vancouver last night, so they missed out on a chance to retake first place from Anaheim. The Ducks lead the Kings by one point and have one game in hand. Both teams play tonight and then they have a head-to-head meeting at Staples Center on Thursday. That race is going down to the wire.


Here’s a look at the most likely first-round opponents for the Stars, according to Sportsclubstats.com. It’s down to two teams unless there is a dramatic change.

Minnesota (75.50%)

Chicago (23.2%)


St. Louis 5, Arizona 2

Vancouver 3, Los Angeles 2


Arizona at Chicago

San Jose at Minnesota

Colorado at Nashville

Los Angeles at Calgary

Winnipeg at Anaheim


Dallas

Los Angeles

Anaheim

St. Louis

Chicago

San Jose

Nashville





CENTRAL DIVISION PACIFIC DIVISION WILDCARD IN HUNT
1st
2nd
3rd
1st
2nd
3rd
WC1
WC2
DAL
STL
CHI
ANA
LAK
SJS
NSH
MIN
COL
Points
105
105
99
98
97
94
92
87
82
Wins (ROW)
46
43
45
41
44
40
35
35
35
Games Left
2
2
3
4
3
3
3
2
3
Home
2
1
2
1
2
2
2
2
1
Road
0
1
1
3
1
1
1
0
2
                   
 
DAL
STL
CHI
ANA
LAK
SJS
NSH
MIN
 COL
Apr. 5
-
-
ARI
WPG
@CGY
@MIN
COL
SJS
@NSH
Apr. 6
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
Apr. 7
COL
@CHI
STL
@LAK
ANA
WPG
ARI
-
@DAL
Apr. 8
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
Apr. 9
NSH
WSH
@CBJ
@COL
WPG
ARI
@DAL
CGY
ANA
Apr. 10
-
-
-
@WSH
-
-
-
-
-

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter 
@StarsInsideEdge.

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