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Playoff Race: Big Night in Central Division

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars


It’s a big night in the Central Division. The top three teams in the division all are playing tonight and with just two games left in the regular season, all three still have a chance to win the Central and the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. The Stars will have a chance to clinch tonight, but they’ll need help from Chicago.

Dallas and St. Louis are tied at 105 points. Chicago is four back at 101 points. The Stars host the Colorado Avalanche. St. Louis plays at Chicago. Both games begin at 7:30 p.m. Central Time.

Of the three teams, only the Stars control their own fate at the moment. If the Stars win their final two games, they win the division and the top seed in the West. The Blues could win both their games as well, but they couldn’t pass the Stars because they would lose the regulation/overtime wins (ROW) tiebreaker to Dallas.

So, the Blues have to finish with more points than Dallas to win the division and the top seed in the West. A tie in the standings with the Stars will do the Blues no good. They’ll need some help from Dallas’ opponents.

The Blackhawks have the toughest path to winning the division and top seed in the West. They’d have to win both their final two games – and win at least one in regulation or overtime – and hope that Dallas and St. Louis fail to get any points in their final two games.

The picture could become clearer tonight. The Stars have a chance to clinch with a win over Colorado and a St. Louis loss in regulation to Chicago. Or the question of who wins the division could have to wait until Saturday when all three teams close out the regular season.

In the Pacific Division, Anaheim plays at Los Angeles. The Ducks and Kings are tied atop the division at 99 points. The Kings have the advantage in the ROW tiebreaker (45-41), but the Ducks are in first place based on playing one fewer game.

San Jose, which has a small chance of moving up to second place in the Pacific, hosts Winnipeg.

Nashville hosts Arizona tonight. The Predators are locked into that first wild-card spot and will play the winner of the Pacific Division in round one.


Here’s a look at the most likely first-round opponents for the Stars, according to Sportsclubstats.com. There are three possibilities at the moment with Minnesota and Chicago being the most likely. If the Stars win the Central, they play Minnesota. If the Blues win the Central, the Stars play Chicago. If Chicago wins the Central, the Star play St. Louis.

Minnesota (76.2%)

Chicago (23.1%)

St. Louis (0.7%)


None


Colorado at Dallas

St. Louis at Chicago

Anaheim at Los Angeles

Winnipeg at San Jose

Arizona at Nashville


Dallas

Los Angeles

Anaheim

St. Louis

Chicago

San Jose

Nashville

Minnesota



CENTRAL DIVISION PACIFIC DIVISION WILDCARD
1st
2nd
3rd
1st
2nd
3rd
WC1
WC2
DAL
STL
CHI
ANA
LAK
SJS
NSH
MIN
Points
105
105
101
99
99
96
94
87
Wins (ROW)
46
43
46
41
45
41
36
35
Games Left
2
2
2
3
2
2
2
1
Home
2
1
1
0
2
2
1
1
Road
0
1
1
3
0
0
1
0
                 
 
DAL
STL
CHI
ANA
LAK
SJS
NSH
MIN
Apr. 7
COL
@CHI
STL
@LAK
ANA
WPG
ARI
-
Apr. 8
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
Apr. 9
NSH
WSH
@CBJ
@COL
WPG
ARI
@DAL
CGY
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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