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Playoff Race: Potential first-round opponents

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

With the regular season winding down and a playoff spot clinched, who are the likely first-round opponents for the Dallas Stars?

If the playoffs started today, it would be the Minnesota Wild. But there are other possibilities, and sportsclubstats.com puts the percentages on them. Here are the Stars’ five most likely first-round opponents as of today:

*Minnesota (42.1%) – This would be the matchup if the Stars finish first in the Central, have a better record than the Pacific Division winner and Minnesota finishes in the second wild-card spot.

*Chicago (33.1%) – The most likely way this happens is if St. Louis wins the Central and the Stars and Blackhawks meet as the second and third seeds in the division. Another scenario would be the Stars win the Central, the Pacific Division winner has a better record and Chicago falls into the first wild-card spot.

*Nashville (15.7%) – There are a couple of ways this could happen. The Stars win the Central Division, the Pacific Division winner has a better record, and Nashville is the first wild-card team. Or St. Louis wins the Central and the Stars and Nashville end up as the second and third seeds in the division.

*St. Louis (6.1%) – The way this happens is if Chicago wins the division and the Stars and Blues end up as the second and third seeds in the Central.

*Colorado (2.2%) – This matchup happens if the Stars finish first in the Central, have a better record than the Pacific Division winner and Colorado finishes in the second wild-card spot.

There hasn’t been much change in the playoff seeding recently, but with two weeks left in the season, there is still a chance for some movement.

No big surprise but the Chicago Blackhawks clinched a playoff spot with their 3-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks last night. It was a big win for Chicago, which moved to within four points of the Stars and Blues, and stayed four points ahead of Nashville, which has started to make a push for third place in the Central Division.

Nashville, which has one game in hand on Chicago, hosts Colorado tonight and can pull to within two points of the Blackhawks. It is crunch time for the Avalanche, who are five points behind Minnesota for the second-wild card spot in the West. Monday’s game is the first of a back-to-back for the Avs, who play at St. Louis on Tuesday. They need a couple of wins, and they’ll have to do it against two teams that are at the top of their games right now.

The big three in the Pacific all play tonight. The Kings and Sharks go head-to-head in San Jose. Los Angeles has a chance to pull within two points of the Stars and Blues for best record in the West. The Ducks, who are three points behind the Kings, play at Edmonton.


Chicago 3, Vancouver 2



Monday’s Key Games

Colorado at Nashville

Los Angeles at San Jose

Anaheim at Edmonton


Dallas

Los Angeles

Anaheim

St. Louis

Chicago





CENTRAL DIVISION PACIFIC DIVISION WILDCARD IN HUNT
1st
2nd
3rd
1st
2nd
3rd
WC1
WC2
DAL
STL
CHI
LAK
ANA
SJS
NSH
MIN
COL
Points
99
99
95
95
92
88
91
85
80
Wins (ROW)
43
40
43
43
38
38
35
34
34
Games Left
6
6
6
7
8
7
7
6
7
Home
4
4
3
4
4
4
4
4
3
Road
2
2
3
3
4
3
3
2
4
                   
 
DAL
STL
CHI
LAK
ANA
SJS
NSH
MIN
 COL
Mar. 28
-
-
-
@SJS
@EDM
LAK
COL
-
@NSH
Mar. 29
NSH
COL
@MIN
-
-
@VAN
@DAL
CHI
@STL
Mar. 30
-
-
-
-
CGY
-
-
-
-
Mar. 31
ARI
-
-
CGY
-
VAN
@PIT
OTT
-
Apr. 1
-
BOS
@WPG
-
VAN
-
-
@DET
WSH
Apr. 2
@LAK
-
-
-
-
@NSH
SJS
-
-
Apr. 3
@ANA
@COL
BOS
-
DAL
-
-
@WPG
STL
Apr. 4
-
ARI
-
@VAN
-
-
-
-
-
Apr. 5
-
-
ARI
@CGY
WPG
@MIN
COL
SJS
@NSH
Apr. 6
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
Apr. 7
COL
@CHI
STL
ANA
@LAK
WPG
ARI
-
@DAL
Apr. 8
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
Apr. 9
NSH
WSH
@CBJ
WPG
@COL
ARI
@DAL
CGY
ANA
Apr. 10
-
-
-
-
@WSH
-
-
-
-
 
DAL
STL
CHI
LAK
ANA
SJS
NSH
MIN
COL

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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