There are several key games Thursday night in the Western Conference playoff race, including the Dallas Stars taking on the Colorado Avalanche at American Airlines Center (7:30 p.m.; FS-SW+; KTCK). Thursday night's game against Colorado is another chance for the Stars to push a little closer to securing a playoff spot.
"We're not looking too far ahead right now. Were focusing day by day," said Stars center Tyler Seguin. "I said to GM Jim Nill (after Tuesday's win over Florida) that I didn't even know who we play next game. There's so much focus on the moment, the day, and the process of winning that game."
The Stars come into Thursday's game against the Avalanche in the first wild-card spot in the West, two points out of third place in the Central and four points ahead of Arizona (second wild-card), five points up on Minnesota (ninth place), six points ahead of Colorado (10th) and eight points ahead of Chicago (11th).
The Avalanche, who have back-to-back wins, are two points behind Arizona for the second wild-card spot. With a lot at stake for both teams, the game should a have a playoff feel to it.
"They are all different games right now. There's never an easy one," said Seguin. "Games like the Rangers or Florida, teams that are out of it, the emotion level is different. A team like Colorado, they're coming in, and it's almost like a do-or-die situation now chasing us and Arizona, so you are going to expect a playoff-type game."
Of the teams around the Stars in the playoff race, all are in action except for Minnesota. St. Louis, which is two points ahead of the Stars in the race for third in the Central, hosts Detroit. Arizona plays at Florida and Chicago host Philadelphia. It's a big night in the race with key points up for grabs.
The Stars' magic number remains at 13. Any combination of 13 points gained by the Stars or lost by the team with the ninth-highest points potential in the West would clinch a playoff spot for Dallas without the use of tiebreakers.
Although Minnesota is ninth in the standings, both Colorado and Chicago can finish the season with more points than the Wild. So, when it comes to calculating the Stars' current magic number, here is how it works: Chicago or Colorado could win out and gain 94 points to finish the season. The Stars, who have 82 points, would need 13 points to hit 95 to surpass.
The Stars could probably do the job by hitting 94 points, which would mean a magic number of 12, since they hold a significant edge in the regulation/overtime win (ROW) tiebreaker, but they haven't clinched the ROW tiebreaker just yet.
Stars' playoff chances
Here are the Stars' playoff chances from the various sites that track such matters.
Hockeyreference.com has the Stars to finish the season at about 92 points and St. Louis on a pace for around 95 points through Wednesday. To reach a 95-point pace in the race for third in the Central Division, the Stars would have to pick up 13 points in their final nine games, posting a record such as 6-2-1 or 5-1-3.
Current playoff matchups
1-Winnipeg vs. WC1-Dallas
2-Nashville vs. 3-St. Louis
1-Calgary vs. WC2-Arizona
2-San Jose vs. 3-Vegas
If the Stars were to maintain their pace of 92 points for the season, there is a 68 percent chance they would play Winnipeg in the first round and a 25 percent chance it would be Nashville, according to sportsclubstats.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.
Mark Stepneski has covered the Stars for DallasStars.com since 2012. Follow him on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.