The Week Ahead: It’s Crunch Time

Three weeks left to go in the season and the difference is now one point. One point is all that separates the Stars and their perilous position in the third spot in the West from a slip all the way down to 11th in the West and out of the playoffs. Things are getting tighter than ever and in the week ahead, it’s a dog eat dog world. Aside from the Los Angeles Kings, all the other playoff teams will be playing a majority of their games this week against each other so turmoil will be guaranteed. 

For Dallas, it’s particularly important because they’ve hit a bump in their road to the playoffs. The Stars have lost two games in a row at a most inopportune time. The small buffer that they had going into last week fizzled away as quickly as their chances to win the past two games and this week starts out with a bang. The Chicago Blackhawks look to have put themselves in a firm hold for the playoffs so they’ll be left off the list this week. It would take an extended losing streak for them to fall back into the pack.

So here we are with week 25 of the season, let’s get to it.

more after the jump

Dallas Stars (39-28-5, 83 pts, 3rd in the West):

  • Tue. March 20 vs. Phoenix Coyotes – Easily the game of the week for the Stars. Both teams will be entering this game tied, though whether or not it’s for the division lead will be up in the air depending on what the San Jose Sharks do tonight. It’s the final meeting between the two teams this season and the Stars are 2-2-1 against them this season.
  • Thur. March 22 vs Vancouver Canucks – This will be the second night of a road back-to-back for the Canucks and they’ll have a difficult game against the Blackhawks in the first night. Canucks have been floundering in the past two weeks so the Stars have to take advantage of this one.
  • Sat. March 24 vs Calgary Flames – This will be the first of a home-and-home matchup with the Flames that will be completed next week. The Stars could put the Flames into the rearview mirrors by winning both of these games.
  • These three games are the last of a homestand for the Stars. They’ll play five of the last seven games on the road so it goes without saying that these are must win. Take care of business at home.

Phoenix Coyotes (36-26-11, 83 pts, 7th in the West):

  • Tue. March 20 @ Dallas Stars – As stated above, the game of the week for both teams. This is the final game of a four game road trip for the Yotes.
  • Thur. March 22 vs Colorado Avalanche – As of today, March 19, these teams are tied in point and regulation+overtime wins. This game will determine the tiebreaker between the two teams.
  • Sat. March 24 @ San Jose Sharks – If the Stars falter this week, this could be a battle for first place in the division and 3rd in the Western Conference.
  • Sun. March 25 vs St. Louis Blues – A very difficult back-to-back for the Yotes as they play the league leading Blues on the second night. This game is sandwiched around a home-and-home against the Sharks.

Colorado Avalanche (39-30-5, 83 pts, 8th in the West):

  • Tue. March 20 vs Calgary Flames
  • Thur. March 22 @ Phoenix Coyotes
  • Sat. March 24 vs Vancouver Canucks
  • If the Avs lose all three games this week, they might be as good as dead as for their chances for a playoff spot. They need to win at least one game this week. They’ve won four of their last five games, though three of the wins were in overtime or a shootout. They’ve really struggled to win in regulation.

San Jose Sharks (36-25-10, 82 pts, 9th in the West)

  • Mon. March 19 vs Anaheim DucksThe first night of a divisional back-to-back for the Sharks. They’ve lost three of four to the Ducks this season, including both games at home so far. The Ducks have lost five out of the last their last six games though.
  • Tue. March 20 @ LA Kings – Second night of a back-to-back. Each of the three games between the two teams so far this season have been won by the home team. Sharks are 5-4-2 on the second night of B2B’s so far this season.
  • Thur. March 22 vs Boston Bruins – A difficult game for a east coast team to travel to the west coast. Hopefully the Bruins can get back on track as they’ve lost four of the last five games. Dallas really needs them to be good this week.
  • Sat. March 24 vs Phoenix Coyotes

LA Kings (35-25-12, 82 pts, 10th in the West)

  • Tue. March 20 vs San Jose Sharks
  • Thur. March 22 vs St. Louis Blues
  • Sat. March 24 vs Boston Bruins – First night of a back-to-back for Boston and their second game on the west coast.
  • The Kings have won four in a row (outscoring opponents 16-6) and are as hot as they’ve been all season. They’ve scored 4+ goals in eight of their last nine wins.

Calgary Flames (34-26-13, 81 pts, 11th in the West)

  • Tue. March 20 @ Colorado Avalanche
  • Thurs. March 22 @ Minnesota Wild
  • Sat. March 24 @ Dallas Stars – The last of an extended road trip for the Flames. They play five of their final six games at home, where they are 20-10-6.
  • Like Dallas, the Flames have lost their last two games. The only difference is that Calgary lost to the Edmonton Oilers and Columbus Blue Jackets, the two worst teams in the league.