Jim Nill is realistic about the Dallas Stars’ chances of making the playoffs.
They aren’t good.
“You have to go on a run here eventually,” the Stars’ general manager told SiriusXM NHL radio this morning. “We’ve been win one, lose one, win two, lose one — eventually, you gotta go on a run where you win three, four, five games in a row if you’re going to get back in it.”
In the wake of last night’s painful loss to Nashville, it’s estimated the Stars will need to go around 16-6-3 in their final 25 games in order to make the playoffs. That’s a tall order for a team that’s been plagued by injuries, poor defensive play, and substandard goaltending.
“We’ve been decimated by injuries again,” said Nill. “We haven’t had our full team all year. So it’s been tough to get a handle on things. But in the end, the excuses don’t matter. You’ve still got to find ways to win games.”
The Stars have three games before they get their bye week, and then it’s only three more games until the March 1 trade deadline.
“I’m going to know in the next week or 10 days where we’re at,” said Nill. “We’ll have to make decisions moving forward after that bye week.”
Expect forwards Patrick Eaves and Patrick Sharp, both pending unrestricted free agents, to garner interest should the Stars start selling. Depending on his health, defenseman Johnny Oduya could be in play as well.
The real challenge for Nill will come this offseason, when the goaltending situation can be ignored no longer. Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi are each signed through next season, but at least one of them will have to be bought out or traded. Whether the answer is Marc-Andre Fleury, Ben Bishop or some other goalie, the fan base is justifiably clamoring for change between the pipes.
A decision will also need to be made about the head coach, as Lindy Ruff’s contract expires at the end of the season.
But first things first — tomorrow in Winnipeg, the Stars take on the equally desperate Jets.
“We’re living game by game here, we know that,” said Nill.
And the number of games is quickly running out.