The NHL has greenlit a new divisional alignment for the upcoming 2021 season, putting the Columbus Blue Jackets in a Central Division with some new - and old - friends. In this series, we'll familiarize (or in some cases, refamiliarize) ourselves with the Central Division foes. Today, we're taking a look at last seasons western conference champions: The Dallas Stars.
All-Time Regular Season Record vs. DAL: 60 GP, 27-27-6 (W-L-OTL)
All-Time Playoff Record vs. DAL: No postseason history.
Last Season vs. DAL: 1-0-0
Last Season Skinny
Five teams in the western conference had better odds to reach the Stanley Cup Finals over Dallas, according to preseason Vegas odds. But at +1700, Dallas came within two games of winning the Stanley Cup, thanks to an impressive postseason run that combined strong goaltending with timely scoring.
The strong goaltending was a factor during the regular season, as well. Only the Boston Bruins gave up fewer goals during the regular season (174, to the Stars' 177). Ben Bishop and Anton Khudobin were both solid in net, with goals against averages of 2.50 and 2.22, respectively. But it was Khudobin who was lights out in the postseason, and was a top priority for the Stars this offseason.
The Covid pause may have helped Dallas in a big way, too: They had lost six in a row before hockey went on hiatus, and struggles in March don't typically go well for teams in April.
It was a relatively quiet offseason for Dallas, as an offseason typically is for a Stanley Cup finalist. They resigned a bevy of key players, and signed only one NHL free agent: defenseman Mark Pysyk, who previously played with the Florida Panthers.
- D Mark Pysyk (Free agent, formerly with FLA)
- C Martin Hanzal (Retired)
- F Mattias Janmark (Signed with Chicago Blackhawks)
- F Corey Perry (Free agent, unlikely to return)
- D Roman Polak (Playing this season in Czech)
- D Gavin Bayreuther (Signed with CBJ)
Tampa Bay is the best team in this division, but Dallas has the strongest case for second best. A consistent defense and a balanced scoring attack, as well as a tandem of goalies (both Khudobin and Bishop are back in the fold this season, which will be critical in a shortened season).
With the way that the postseason is set up for this season, the likelihood of a Columbus-Dallas postseason matchup is pretty good. Columbus makes a strong case for the the third best team, and that would set up a Stars-Blue Jackets postseason matchup that would feature two elite defenses and two #1 caliber goalies on each team.