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Stars Playoff Picture Heading Into Tuesday's Games

The Stars kept their razor thin playoff hopes alive Sunday with their regulation win in Anaheim. Nothing that has much of an impact on the Stars happened Monday, as the Kings lost but still essentially have a magic point number of one. Phoenix and Nashville don't have the unreachable (for Dallas) win total, but they are also practically out of reach with six and seven point leads on Dallas with just four games remaining on the Stars' schedule. Though they're ahead of Dallas in the standings, ninth place Calgary can't catch any of those teams. So this is a four-team race for two spots, with Anaheim and Chicago in playoff spots and Calgary and Dallas as longshots.

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PlcTeamGPPW
 7.Anaheim799344
 8.Chicago789242
 9.Calgary809140
 10.Dallas788939
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Calgary can only reach 95 points, so they need Anaheim or Chicago to really crater. Dallas  can reach 97 points and 43 wins, and their big advantage is their schedule, which consists of: Columbus, Colorado, at Colorado, at Minnesota. It's four games in six days, and it's never fun to play a home-and-home on back-to-back days, but these are all lottery teams, and none of them are playing well. The other advantage is that OT/shootout wins work fine since these are not teams they're competing against.

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If the Stars can muster four wins, Anaheim needs four points in three games to stay in front of them. The Ducks host San Jose (who just beat them 4-2 in San Jose) tomorrow, then have a home-and-home with LA Friday and Saturday. That may not be easy, though the Kings' loss of two of their top scorers hurts.

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The Blackhawks picture is a little more clouded because Dallas could conceivably catch their win total and still wind up tied in points. But under any scenario Dallas would have to make up at least three points on them in four games, so four Dallas wins is still almost a must. Chicago plays in Montreal tonight at 6:30, so there will be some early scoreboard watching. They come home to host St. Louis tomorrow, then have a home-and-home with Detroit Friday and Sunday.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.