So, the Stars play the Sharks on Versus tonight. Despite the formidability (is that a word?) of San Jose, Dallas has a chance for the simple reason that the Sharks are not named the Chicago Blackhawks.
Let's take a little field trip, kiddos. After the jump: the week ahead for the bubble teams.
5. Vancouver (59 GP, 68 points)
The Canucks are 8-1-1 in their last ten games. For Stars fans, that might be good news: the fifth seed is drifting blissfully off into the distance.
This week's games: @ Montreal, vs. Minnesota, vs. San Jose
6. Columbus (60 GP, 66 points)
This is a huge week for the Blue Jackets. It's a three game road trip against the best team in the Northwest division, plus two of Calgary's Canadian division-sharing cousins. Just a huge week in the Battle of the Bubble Bulge.
This week's games: @ Calgary, @ Edmonton, @ Vancouver
7. Dallas (58 GP, 65 points)
During the Stars' impressive run back into the playoff picture, it was hard to imagine the team making a big trade. But what happens now that Brad Richards is injured? Let's just hope that the Michal Rosival to Dallas trade rumor is one of those "Malkin to LA" blow-jays.
This week's games: vs. SJS, vs. STL, vs. Ana, vs. Pitt
8. Minnesota (58 GP, 64 points)
Let me reiterate a challenge I made on my blog: anyone who thinks the Wild are actually going to make the playoffs, step forward. They're about to start their long fall from grace this week. After a home game against LA, reality (in the form of huge road trips) will take a big bite out of the 'Soters.
This week's games: vs. LA, @ CGY, @ EDM
9. Edmonton (59 GP, 63 points)
This is the opportunity the Oilers needed to make up ground. Can they rise above their level of consistent mediocrity to strengthen their stance?
This week's games: vs. TB, vs. CBJ, vs. MIN
10. Anaheim (61 GP, 63 points)
Dad: Yes, son?
Junior: What is Anaheim made out of?
Dad: Mystery meat, son. Mystery meat.
This week's games: @Buffalo, @Boston, @Dallas
The Kings, Coyotes and Predators have some sort of chance but for right now I consider them "fading out of the picture." That could change next week, but for now it is what it is.