We have surpassed the very important American Thanksgiving checkpoint of the 2022-23 regular season. There is no arguing the numbers as roughly 78% of the teams that are in a playoff spot at this mark will make the postseason.
So if that is the case, what would the playoffs look like right now for the Dallas Stars?
The Stars hold a 13-6-4 record, good for 30 points and a win percentage of .652%.
That excellent start has pushed them atop the Central Division and only five points behind the Vegas Golden Knights for the top spot in the West (Pete DeBoer’s former team.)
If the Stanley Cup Playoffs started today, the Stars would meet the top Wild-Card Edmonton Oilers in the first round. Let’s look at the matchup:
Dallas: 13-6-4, 30 points (Home: 6-2-2, Road: 7-4-2 )
Edmonton: 12-10-0, 24 points (Home: 6-6-0 , Road: 6-4-0 )
Goals For/ Goals Against/ Goal Differential:
Dallas: GF: 88 (1st in the NHL), GA: 65 (+23)
Edmonton: GF: 74, GA: 78 (-4)
Dallas: Power play: 28.79% (3rd) , Penalty Kill: 83.33% (3rd)
Edmonton: Power play: 28.75% (4th), Penalty Kill: 73.26% (26th)
Jason Robertson: 19 goals (1st in NHL), 36 points (2nd in NHL)
Jamie Benn: 10 goals, 26 points
D: Miro Heiskanen: 3 goals, 16 points
Connor McDavid: 17 goals (2nd in NHL), 39 points (1st in NHL)
Leon Draisaitl: 13 goals (6th in NHL), 33 points (4th in NHL)
D: Tyson Barrie: 4 goals, 13 points
Jake Oettinger: 8-2-3: 2.52 GAA (12th in NHL), .917 save percentage (12th in NHL)
Scott Wedgewood: 5-4-1: 3.07 GAA, .906 save percentage
Stuart Skinner: 5-5-0: 2.80 GAA (24th in NHL), .919 save percentage (10th in NHL)
Jack Campbell: 7-5-0: 4.04 GAA, .875 save percentage
The Stars and Oilers have only met once so far in 2022-23.
Jamie Benn recorded a hat trick and Robertson added two goals in a dominant 6-2 win for Dallas in Alberta on Nov. 5.
The teams will meet in Dallas on Dec. 21 and in Edmonton for the final time on March 16.
For a Stars team that earned the second overall seed, a first-round matchup with Edmonton is hardly a reward. This is especially true when you look at their success in last year’s playoffs (swept in the Western Conference Final).
Not only can Edmonton match their top-tier talent, but they have an equal power play and are getting some excellent goaltending from Skinner.
The Stars have the leading goal-scorer in Jason Robertson and one of the best top lines in the entire league with Joe Pavelski, Robertson, and Roope Hintz. On the flip side, Edmonton has the best player in the world in Connor McDavid, and another top-five player in the world in Leon Draisaitl. Which top guns can outplay the others?
Most likely, the two top lines will cancel each other out. If one severely outplays the other, the series shouldn't be close. So if we call the above matchups a wash, where can Dallas can pull away? Their elite power play vs Edmonton’s lenient penalty kill.
The Stars have been dominant on the power play for most of this season. They have scored 19 power-play goals and have one of the most dangerous net-front guys in NHL history in Pavelski.
Edmonton’s penalty kill has been dreadful. They allow a goal on about 26% of their shorthanded opportunities and rank second in the league in times shorthanded. Funny enough, Dallas is the only team above them in that category.
I believe that the Stars win this series for two reasons: Miro Heiskanen, Roope Hintz, and the strong Dallas system go full lockdown on McDavid and keep him relatively quiet, and the Stars power play absolutely goes off.
Dallas Wins 4-2
Western Conference Playoff Picture as of Nov. 29:
P1: Vegas Golden Knights
WC2: Minnesota Wild
C1: Dallas Stars
WC1: Edmonton Oilers
P2: Seattle Kraken (what?)
P3: Los Angeles Kings
C2: Winnipeg Jets
C3: Colorado Avalanche