If a team doesn't perform well against its own division in the NHL, it usually costs a playoff spot.
The Dallas Stars learned this the hard way last season. A year ago, the Stars were expected to contend for a deep playoff run. After all, they had reached the playoffs the year before and nearly took down Pacific heavyweight Anaheim. With the additions of Jason Spezza and Jason Demers, the Stars were bound to be better.
Then they went 8-14-7 against their Central Division rivals and missed the playoffs entirely.
If good results against difficult opponents is the true test of a rising team, the Stars failed last season. But this year they're passing with flying colors.
No, they didn't beat St. Louis Blues on Tuesday night, and giving up two points to a division rival this time of year is exactly what got them into trouble last season. But the Stars' performance showed how they've changed. They killed off four penalties in a crucial second period to retain a one-goal deficit long enough to log the tying goal late in the third. They squeezed a point from a division rival out of a game they had no right to win. Their division record this year is still a sterling 13-5-2.
Maybe this last little stretch is proving the Dallas Stars are all grown up.
3 things we learned
1. The Flyers have a very special rookie on their hands
Shayne Gostisbehere extended his points streak to 13 games with a big goal against New Jersey on Tuesday. Gostisbehere is having a rookie year much like that of Dallas' John Klingberg last season, a defenseman who came on midway through the season and absolutely lit up the score sheet every night. Gostisbehere now has 10 goals and 31 points in 37 games.
2. Joseph Blandisi is a phenomenal diver
The Devils rookie clearly took some acting lessons in school.
3. Actual ducks enjoy Anaheim Ducks games
If this is, in fact, a real duck. Still working to confirm.
This guy... pic.twitter.com/FTSXo3gp6E— Sean Leahy (@Sean_Leahy) February 17, 2016
This may come as a shock to you, but Radko Gudas was ejected again on Tuesday.
I know. He never does things like that.
Elias Sports Bureau updated its note. Gostisbehere streak actually 4th longest by rookie since 1987-88 pic.twitter.com/onFR1Tv4U9— Adam Kimelman (@NHLAdamK) February 17, 2016