Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Texas Stars Games Played Puts Them in Pole Position For Playoffs

Texas leads the league with 48 games played, and that's good...
Brendan Ranford (Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
Last night's All-Star Challenge was the most engaging All-Star experience the AHL has had in years. There were high-scoring games and low; great goals and great goaltending. It was everything the league wants to showcase and all it took was a little format change. There's no question both the NHL and the AHL will be retaining their divisional format for the game in the future.

Brendan Ranford and Esa Lindell were Texas' representatives in the event. Ranford had a pair of assists in the Pacific's 6-4 win over the Central. Esa Lindell had no points. The Central turned out to be the winner, and it's probably no surprise. The competition has been fierce there this season with six teams battling for what will probably be five spots (four plus the crossover) in the playoffs.

The two All-Stars will return to a Texas Stars' squad that is ready for the stretch run to those aforementioned playoffs. Thanks to the strength of the Central, the Pacific division is at great risk of seeing its fourth place finisher knocked out of the playoffs in favor of the fifth place finisher in the Central. If the playoffs started today, Stockton would be staying home. Lake Erie would crossover to play Ontario while Texas would play San Jose.

And how about those Texas Stars? Most reports are calling the post-All-Star time the 'second half' of the season. For Texas, the second half of the season started January 9th. The Stars have played the most hockey of any team in the league to this point in the season. The good news for Texas is that they are in second place in the division with the bulk of the season behind them. If they were down in the standings, the games played would be a liability. They'd have fewer games to catch up. Now, having cemented a bit of standings inertia, the Stars will play just 28 games in the next three and a half months. That affords time to practice up and heal up for the playoffs.

Texas seems to be in pole position for the playoffs at the All-Star Break.

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