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Playoff Race: Stars still control own destiny

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

The race for the top spot in the Central Division and the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference playoffs is a little tighter this morning, but the Stars are still in control of their own fate. With the Stars losing at Anaheim and the Blues winning at Colorado last night, Dallas’ lead over St. Louis is down to two points.

The Blues will have a chance to draw even in points tonight when they host the Arizona Coyotes. Even if the Blues win, the Stars will remain in first place because of their edge in the regulation/overtime wins (ROW) tiebreaker. The Stars have clinched that tiebreaker because of their 46-42 lead. St. Louis has to finish with more points than Dallas to win the race; a tie won’t do because they will lose the tiebreaker.

That means the Stars are still in control of their own destiny. If they take care of business and win their final two games against Colorado and Nashville, they will win the Central and the top seed in the West. Of course, the Avalanche and Predators will have a say in that as well.

The Blues’ opponents will have a say if St. Louis can make it interesting. Besides tonight’s game with Arizona, the Blues play at Chicago and host Washington to close out their regular season.

The Stars have an 82 percent chance of winning the division, according to sportsclubstats.com and a 77.6 percent chance of taking the division, according to hockeyreference.com’s playoff probabilities page.

The Blackhawks beat Boston, 6-4, Sunday so they are four points behind the Blues and six points behind the Stars. The Blackhawks are still mathematically alive in the race for first in the Central, but their chances are almost zero. They have a somewhat better chance to move up to second place. We’ll see where things stand when the Blackhawks and Blues play Thursday.

Minnesota lost 5-1 to Winnipeg Sunday, so the Wild missed out on a chance to eliminate Colorado and clinch the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Wild still have a five-point lead, and their magic number is two points. Their next chance to clinch is Tuesday.

Nashville was idle yesterday but with Chicago winning and Minnesota losing, the Predators are now locked into that first wild-card spot.

The Ducks took over first place in the Pacific with their win over the Stars last night. The Kings play at Vancouver tonight and can move back into first place in the Pacific with a win.


Here’s a look at the most likely first-round opponents for the Stars, according to sportsclubstats.com. With St. Louis back to within two points of the Stars, the numbers have changed a little bit from yesterday. It’s most likely going to be one of two teams as of right now:

Minnesota (80.9%)

Chicago (17.1%)


Anaheim 3, Dallas 1

St. Louis 5, Colorado 1

Chicago 6, Boston 4

Winnipeg 5, Minnesota 1


Arizona at St. Louis

Los Angeles at Vancouver


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
103
99
98
97
94
92
87
82
Wins (ROW)
46
42
45
41
44
40
35
35
35
Games Left
2
3
3
4
4
3
3
2
3
Home
2
2
2
1
1
2
2
2
1
Road
0
1
1
3
3
1
1
0
2
                   
 
DAL
STL
CHI
ANA
LAK
SJS
NSH
MIN
 COL
Apr. 4
-
ARI
-
-
@VAN
-
-
-
-
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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