Are the Dallas Stars Legitimate Playoff Contenders?

The 2021-2022 season is approaching its breaking point for the Dallas Stars.

With 13 games left to play, the Stars are in an intense fight for a playoff spot in the Western Conference. Entering Thursday’s action, Dallas is in the second wild card position with a one-point lead and three games in hand over the Vegas Golden Knights.

The Winnipeg Jets and Vancouver Canucks are also within striking distance, though they too have played more games than Dallas.

While it won’t be easy, the Stars qualifying for the postseason is an incredibly real possibility. If the team from Texas is able to punch its ticket to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, will it have any real chance to be competitive?

Can the Stars be competitive in the playoffs?

The short answer is yes, but the long answer is much more complex. At the start of this season, I saw Dallas as a favorite in the West, so I picked them to reach the Cup Final for the second time in three seasons.

However, this campaign quickly became more of the same as the Stars proved yet again to be a team that is incapable of reaching its potential. Maybe incapable is an unfair assessment, but the point is that this team should be solid offensively and defensively, but that has not been the case.

Defensively, Dallas has been good, but the offense has been a letdown. The Stars proved in the 2020 playoffs that when their top players show up, they possess a lethal scoring attack to go with a solid defense.

Knowing that that offensive ability is still in there somewhere makes the Stars a team that is dangerous to upset any opponent at any time. However, waiting for the Dallas playmakers to step up has become frustrating, and I’m done giving them the benefit of the doubt.

As a result, I suggested prior to the trade deadline that the Stars should sell their veteran players and shift the focus to the young players that have emerged as long-term answers. That did not happen.

Seeing the lack of production from players like Alexander Radulov makes me feel that while this team is capable of being competitive, it will fall short this postseason.

As much as I would love to see this team blossom into what I thought it could be back in October, I expect the Stars to qualify for the playoffs and then get bounced early.