Dallas Stars Play For Division Title

DENVER, COLORADO - APRIL 07: Jake Oettinger #29 of the Dallas Stars tends goal against the Colorado Avalanche during the second period at Ball Arena on April 07, 2024 in Denver, Colorado. | Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The Dallas Stars could check off another box on the season’s to-do list when they face the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night at the American Airlines Center.

The Stars sit atop the Central Division by five points over the Colorado Avalanche with three games remaining for both teams. A win for the Stars on Thursday would give them a seven-point lead over Colorado, and since teams cannot earn more than two points per game, it would also seal the division title.

“That’s what we’ve been working hard for all season, so it’s an important game,” Stars forward Radek Faksa told the media on Thursday morning. “And we’re obviously still vying for the Presidents’ Trophy, so there’s a lot to play for.”

The Stars have played well against playoff teams, notably knocking off Colorado, the Edmonton Oilers, and the Vancouver Canucks in recent weeks. Winnipeg enters the game with 102 points on the season and in third place in the Central Division, providing Dallas another opportunity to flex its muscles against a quality opponent.

“We’re preparing for the playoffs, so we have to play these games like playoff games because you cannot just turn it on like that,” Faksa added. “You cannot turn on the switch in the playoffs. It’s the playoffs. You have to prepare before and be ready.”

Dallas, Winnipeg, and Colorado have taken turns atop the division all season, but the Stars have made a crucial late push with 10 wins in their last 11 games.

“I don’t want to say it’s the deepest division in the league, but it might be the most top-heavy division in the league,” Dallas head coach Pete DeBoer told the media Tuesday. “We’ve been in a yearlong battle with Winnipeg and Colorado at the top, two excellent teams. The fact that we’ve created some separation and found a way to kind of outrun them at the end to win the division, that’s not insignificant. I think our group’s taken some pride in that,”

While Dallas has created separation, the Stars know Thursday may not be the last time they face the Jets this season. There is a good chance the teams could meet in a critical playoff series, which leaves DeBoer and company laser-focused on the task at hand while knowing there is still work to do, and they must remain sharp.

“I don’t think we’re hanging the division title on this game,” the head coach explained. “… This is a team we could very well see on the playoff trail somewhere if we all take care of business the way we all feel like we should take care of business. This is a team that we could be staring at two weeks into the playoffs, so I think you want to make sure you’re sending the right messages on how you play in games like that,”

The Stars (50-20-9) go for the Central Division crown at 7 p.m. CT. Dallas has not won the division since the 2015-16 season.

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