CEDAR PARK — If the Texas Stars are going to have a chance to defend their Calder Cup championship, their playoff push needs to start this weekend against the Chicago Wolves.
Texas sits in 10th place in the AHL’s Western Conference with 41 points, one fewer than Grand Rapids, which holds the eighth and final playoff spot. Chicago sits in seventh with 47 points. Hamilton (42 points) also is just ahead of the Stars.
“It’s just that time of the year where guys know that these are the points that are much needed,” said Stars defenseman Matt Mangene. “Everyone is trying to battle for that playoff spot. We know that these upcoming points are huge for us.”
The Stars could solidify themselves as a playoff contender with a sweep of the Wolves, lifting Texas to 45 points before the All-Star Break arrives Sunday.
A pair of losses, however, could drop Texas to as low as 12th in the standings, putting the team in a position where it likely would have to pile up at least 41 points in the final 34 regular-season games to contest for a playoff spot. The projected cutoff for playoff qualifiers from the Western Conference is 82 points.
Last season, Oklahoma City nabbed the final playoff berth from the Western Conference, totaling 83 points.