Team picture day is a fun part of being a pro athlete.

It’s like grade school never ends and you get a reminder of your “class” for the rest of your life.

“They’re special,” Stars coach Pete DeBoer said after Dallas had its picture taken Wednesday morning at American Airlines Center. “The best part about coaching is taking a group at the beginning of the season and working with them and trying to move them to where they’re all pulling on the rope in the same direction. I think the team picture at the end of the season always is a culmination of that.”

Pete DeBoer speaks to the media after practice

DeBoer is in his second season with the Stars. He and assistant coach Steve Spott go back a long way, working together on junior teams in Plymouth and Kitchener, as well as in the NHL in San Jose, Vegas and Dallas. They have a lot of memories wrapped up in team pictures. Stars forward Tyler Seguin played with goalie Scott Wedgewood in youth leagues and junior hockey. Heck, Seguin and Jamie Benn can look back at their first season on the Stars together in 2013-14 and marvel at how young they were.

Bottom line, the memories linger – and when you understand that, you look at this season a little differently on a day like Wednesday.

“Hopefully, we’ll be photoshopping some hardware into that one,” forward Matt Duchene said afterward. “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think about that today. Obviously, there’s tons to go, and it’s one day at a time. It’s a damn hard trophy to win.”

It’s an interesting place for the Stars right now. They are 10-1-0 in their past 11 and in first place in not only the Central Division, but also the Western Conference. They are one point behind the New York Rangers for the best record in the NHL. So there is a lot on the table in these final three games – starting on Thursday against Winnipeg.

Dallas sits 50-20-9 (109 points) in first place in the Central. Colorado is second at 49-24-6 (104 points) and Winnipeg is third at 48-24-6 (102 points). The top team plays a wild card team in the first round, while the second place team hosts the third place team. So there’s a lot on the line in games like this.

The Stars say they simply want to finish strong and let the cards fall where they may. Yes, the division championship – or even the Presidents’ Trophy for best record in the NHL – is important, but the key is playing the best they can play.

“They’re really special, but they’re special when you reflect back on them. In the moment, yes you’re chasing them, but you don’t have time to enjoy them,” DeBoer said. “I think those are things we’re going to look back on and reflect on, hopefully with a Stanley Cup and go, ‘Wow, what a great season.’ If it’s not with a Stanley Cup, that doesn’t diminish what this group has accomplished so far during the regular season because it hasn’t been easy.”

Not unlike a nice team photo, you can look back and think of a hundred great stories.

“When you have a team like this, you can look at the regular season as almost a pain, because of where you want to be at the end,” Duchene said. “But you still have to go through each step. You have to go through training camp, and you have to go through the first 10, and up to Christmas, and then the trade deadline, on and on. There are steps, and I think this team has done a really good job of just staying in the moment.  I think we’ve done a really good job of that.”

Key Numbers

Going on a 10-1-0 run down the stretch, the Stars have taken over the league lead in goal differential at plus-64. Carolina is second at plus-61.

Stars forward Tyler Seguin has 54 points (29 goals, 25 assists) in 46 career games against the Jets. That’s the most he has scored against any NHL team.

Dallas is 8-2-1 in its past 11 games against Winnipeg, including 3-0-0 this season.

He Said It

“We’ve risen to the occasions when we have played the elite teams recently – Edmonton, Vancouver Colorado – and I’ve liked our game in those situations. So I like where we’re at, but you always wonder how it’s going to transfer when you get one of those teams in a seven-game series.”

- Stars coach Pete DeBoer on facing a big game against Winnipeg on Thursday.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.

Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika.

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