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Playoff bubble watch — Stars edition

Apr 1, 2014, 12:48 PM EDT

LindyRuff2 Getty Images

Four wins in their last five — including an unexpected triumph Saturday in St. Louis — have lifted the Dallas Stars’ playoff chances to 59.7 percent, according to Sports Club Stats.

For a team with a history of late-season collapses, it’s been a reassuring stretch.

“This was a huge test for us,” goalie Kari Lehtonen said after the Blues game. “One of the best teams in the league and we played last night and traveled here late, and showed up, and it was just a huge win.”

But with eight games remaining and the Phoenix Coyotes enjoying a good stretch of their own, the work is far from done. Tonight, the Stars are in Washington to play a Capitals side that’s in a similar position of desperation, except in the East.

source:  “We have to answer the question of whether we are good enough,” Dallas coach Lindy Ruff said of the challenge that awaits his club, per the Morning News.

It’s estimated the Stars will need to gain nine out of a possible 16 points (so a 4-3-1 record, or 3-2-3) in order to give themselves a better-than-50/50 shot of qualifying for the postseason for the first time since 2008. It’s quite possible it could all come down to their final game of the season, on Apr. 13 in Phoenix.

The way the standings look today, only one of the Stars or Coyotes are likely to make the playoffs, with only one earning, not only the chance to compete for the Stanley Cup, but also some much-needed buzz in their respective, crowded sports markets.

A decade ago, the Stars were among the NHL’s leaders in attendance. These days, they’re right down at the bottom. Getting back into the playoffs won’t completely rekindle fan interest overnight, but it’s a step that badly needs to be taken. In a big American sports market like Dallas, the hockey team needs to be successful on the ice in order to be successful off it, which in turns helps it be even more successful on it.

“We feel we have our fate in our own hands,” said forward Colton Sceviour. “We have games in hand, but those games mean nothing unless you win them. We feel confident if we play well we can make a push here down the stretch, and this is a start and we can build off it.”

  1. trbowman - Apr 1, 2014 at 12:52 PM

    Chicago 24th back in 2002-03.

    Amazing how nobody in Chi-town cared about them when they were terrible.

    • bildomac07 - Apr 1, 2014 at 1:57 PM

      If there is a bad product on the ice you’ll almost always see a dip no matter what market you’re in (Montreal/Toronto being notable exceptions). Although it is interesting to see Chicago, Pittsburgh and Boston in the bottom third of the league in 2002-2003, all three of those teams have sold 100% or better (not sure how that’s possible? Standing room?) in each of the past three seasons.

      • wannabebluesplayer - Apr 1, 2014 at 2:05 PM

        If said team is bad, you will always see a major dip in attendance, especially if it’s for a lengthy time. I never understand the attendance arguments, mainly because, every city/market is different. Every city/market also has different other professional sports competing for fans. St. Louis for example has the Cardinals and they dominate in the STL. The Blues have a good following, and casual fans are coming back to Scottrade, but the Cardinals will always be the dominate sport in town. The attendance argument is pointless.

    • AppealToReason - Apr 1, 2014 at 2:56 PM

      I take offence to this! I’ve been a die-hard Hawks fan ever since their inaugural season in 2008! Whats all this 2002-03 talk?!!?!

  2. purpleguy - Apr 1, 2014 at 2:45 PM

    Should have never left MN — @#%@# Norm Green!

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