Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Western Conference Outlook: Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars are one of the up-and-coming, more exciting teams in the NHL according to a lot of hockey fans and puck-heads out there. The Stars made some very big moves this off-season that may just push them to be a team to do some damage in the playoffs next season.

In case you missed it, we took a look at the Arizona Coyotes and predicted how the Predators will fare against them next season here.

The Stars A Year Ago

The Dallas Stars finished the 2013-2014 season eighth in the Western Conference standings, good enough to sneak into the playoffs as the final wild-card team from the West. The Stars finished the year with a total of 91-points in the standings, three more points than the Nashville Predators, making them the number-five team in the Central Division.

The Stars bolted above their expectations last season by making the playoffs for the first time in six-seasons. Success last season points directly to the work Stars Head Coach Lindy Ruff did for his new hockey club on the ice. The Stars also had a couple of very well known hockey players that contributed to their success a year ago; Jamie Benn and last year’s new Star, Tyler Seguin.

Dallas scored a total of 231-goals last season, putting them as the 10th highest scoring team in the NHL a year ago. Of those 231-goals, Seguin and Benn combined for 71 of those goals. Seguin with 37 goals last season and Benn with 34 put them both in the top-ten in goals last season individually. Only one other duo in the NHL found themselves in the top-ten a season ago, Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz; not bad company.

The Stars success last season also stemmed from their goalie play by netminder Kari Lehtonen. Lehtonen recorded 33-wins last season in his 64-starts for Dallas ranking him tied for sixth in wins among all goalies last season. Lehtonen finished the season with a .919 save-percentage and recorded 1,735 saves which was the highest amount of saves by any goalie a year ago.

The Stars found themselves playing the Western Conference Champion Anaheim Ducks in the first-round of the playoffs last season. The Ducks eliminated the Stars in six-games.

The Predators finished with a record of 2-2-1 against the Stars last season.

Stars Off-Season Moves

The Stars biggest move this off-season without question was their acquisition of forward Jason Spezza from the Ottawa Senators. The Predators were a part of the Spezza sweepstakes this off-season but Spezza placed Nashville on his no-trade list, therefore Nashville essentially lost all chances to acquire the 66-point scorer as their possible top-line center. The Stars acquired Spezza and prospect Ludwig Karlsson from Ottawa in exchange for Alex Chiasson, prospects Nicholas Paul and Alex Guptill, plus next years second-round draft pick.

Spezza’s current contract with Dallas has one-year remaining on it, where he will make $7 mil this upcoming season then become an unrestricted free-agent if Dallas decides to part ways with him after next season and not offer him a new deal.

The Stars were not done making moves with the Senators after acquiring Jason Spezza. Dallas also signed former Senators forward Ales Hemsky to a three-year contract for $4mil per season. Hemsky had 26-points in 55-games last season with the Edmonton Oilers before he was dealt to Ottawa where he recorded 17-points in 20-games last season.

Spezza and Hemsky certainly highlighted Dallas’ off-season moves but the signing of former Nashville Predators and Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Anders Lindback as a backup for Lehtonen should not be overlooked either.

The Stars biggest loss this off-season was their young forward Alex Chiasson who recorded 35-points in 79-games as a Star a year ago.

Predators Predictions Against The Stars

The Predators and Stars has always been a heated rivalry and I expect this up coming season to be no different, if not more heated, than the past. The Stars, even with their acquisition of Spezza, Hemsky, and others, still find themselves in the NHL’s toughest division; the Central. Both the Predators and Stars, if basing things off the past, will likely be anywhere from the fourth to seventh ranked teams in the Central Division behind the likes of Chicago, St Louis, Colorado, and Minnesota.

The Stars and Predators may find themselves battling for a wild-card spot just as they were last year and taking three-points from a team that most likely will be either just ahead of another or on your coat-tails coming down the stretch is a must. The Predators having a winning record against the Stars next season may be the difference in making the playoffs or just missing a wild-card spot as they did a year ago.

I predict the Predators to win their first meeting against Dallas this season which happens to be the second game of the year. This game will take place in Smashville and I think it is safe to say Nashville fans are looking forward to watching the Predators play against Jason Spezza early this season at Bridgestone Arena after he placed Nashville on his no-trade list this off-season.

The next meeting takes place in Dallas on the later side of a six-game road trip and I believe the Predators take the loss in Dallas in this one.

The next two contests between Nashville and Dallas take part in Nashville. Defending home-ice in better fashion than last year should be a top priority for the Predators this up coming season. These two-games between teams that may be battling for a playoff-spot being played in Nashville is an advantage the Predators most definitely need to take advantage of next season. Although these two games come in Nashville, I think the Predators win one and lose one.

With these predictions, it puts the record for the Predators against the Stars at 2-2-0, identical to last season’s record, with one game remaining in the season series. The final game of the season series happens to be the final game of the regular season and Dallas has the home-ice advantage. Last year’s season finale saw the Stars beating the Predators 3-2 in a shootout; this season I see a similar game but with the Predators winning the game either in overtime or in a shootout.

I predict the Predators finishing next season with a 3-2-0 record against the Dallas Stars.

 

Don’t forget to follow and tweet us @PredlinesNSH  and Like Us on Facebook at Predlines for all news and opinions surrounding the Nashville Predators, we love hearing from you guys and talking Predators hockey.

 

 

Tags: Nashville Predators NHL Western Conference

comments powered by Disqus