Stars should be taking center stage in Big D

Life in the DFW sports world is quickly becoming sour. The Texas Rangers are fading at a historic rate. In just a little over two weeks, their three game lead in the AL West has turned into a six and a half game deficit in second place, and an outside shot of missing even a wild card spot.  Meanwhile with the Cowboys losing their first game yesterday to the Kansas City Chiefs 17-16, Dallas sports fans are once again reminded that "America's Team" is still as inconsistent and uncertain as ever.

That leaves the Stars as the one team that DFW sports fans can look to in the next couple of weeks. Hockey is indeed back and last night was the start of the NHL preseason. Place your hopes wherever you will, but the start of this new NHL season (which is triumphantly back to 82 games) offers the DFW area the best chance for a fresh start. The Stars made a lot of changes themselves over the offseason: a new GM, a new coach, new jerseys, a new logo (both of which are growing on me every day) and a partially re-tooled roster. It's time that DFW make a change as well. It's time for DFW to place their trust in the Stars.

All that said, here's a quick month by month breakdown of the Stars' schedule this year, including predictions for each month.


Total games: 12 (five home, seven away)

Games against last year's playoff teams: six

The return to a full 82-game slate should fire up this team, which still features several high-energy guys. But now add offensive newcomers Tyler Seguin, Shawn Horcoff and highly touted rookie Valeri Nicushkin to the mix (Rich Peverly should be back around the third game of the year).  I expect this team will shoot out to a hot start against a respectable, but not terribly difficult schedule.  Visits to Los Angeles, Anaheim and Montreal loom, but this is still one of the clubs' easier months and I think their October end record will show that.  Seguin and Nichushkin will put up big numbers in their first month with their new club.

October end record: 7-4-1


Total games: 12 (five home, seven away)

Games against last year's playoff teams: nine

November will be the Stars' toughest month of the year, particularly in the month's second half.  It should definitely be an exciting one though, as the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks will visit the Stars twice. Dallas will also "ship up to Boston" (get the Dropkick Murphy reference?) for a hot date with last year's eastern conference champion, the Bruins. With only one contest that could truly be called "easy" (if that even exists in the NHL), the Stars will cool off a little against elite competition, but will still head into December in good shape.

November end record: 6-6-0


Total games: 15 (eight home, seven away)

Games against last year's playoff teams: eight

This is the Stars' second toughest month. They'll face the Hawks twice, Kings twice and the St. Louis Blues. A home game against the revamped Oilers to kick off the month should be a barnburner. The Stars usually play well around Christmas time, and I think they'll continue that trend this year.  Expect this team to use its energetic legs and newfound speed to play respectably.  Getting through this month with eight or more wins would be a nice little Christmas gift.

December end record: 8-6-1


Total games: 15 (10 home, five away)

Games against last year's playoff teams: 10

It's easier than December, but only because it's a home-heavy month for the Stars. This month will feature the highest concentration of Eastern Conference teams all season. The new year should bring some fresh energy against the likes of the Canadiens, Maple Leafs, Red Wings and Penguins. Expect the Stars to tread water against the beasts of the East.  They'll rely on the spirit of their home crowd to get them through this month.

January end record: 7-7-1


Total games: five (two home, three away)

Games against last year's playoff teams: two

The NHL will take a three week break for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, and the Stars will get a short slate of games as well some much needed rest. They'll play four of their five February games against their old Pacific division foes.   The Stars have generally played well against the old Pacific division, and should have a solid result this month.  Expect to see some Stars players representing their respective countries in what should be one of the most competitive Olympic hockey tournaments in recent memory.

February end record: 3-1-1


Total games: 16 (nine home, seven away)

Games against last year's playoff teams: seven

Getting back into the NHL season, the schedule really starts to loosen up for the Stars as they begin their home stretch. More than half of the schedule this month is against non playoff teams from last year. The Stars get the Hawks and Penguins one more time each, but everything else has the appearance of a winnable game. The Stars need to play well this month to solidify their playoff positioning and I think they'll answer the call.

March end record: 9-6-1


Total games: seven (two home, five away)

Games against last year's playoff teams: two

This month is the Stars' easiest by far. The timing is perfect, and this should help them clinch their first playoff berth in five years. Outside of one last visit to St. Louis, the Stars should have relatively smooth sailing to close out the regular season.

April end record: 5-2-0

All in all, I see the Stars finishing the regular season with a solid record of 45-32-5.  As I predicted in my Stars season preview last week, this should easily get them into the conversation for the West's 5-8 seed (closer to five then eight). I don't see any 11-game point streaks this year (like two years ago), but I fully expect this team to be far more consistent than they have been in the past.  The goal for this team is just to end the five-year playoff drought at all costs.  From there, as we all know, anything is possible.

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