Playoff picture still cloudy

A week into post-Olympic action and the Stars have dropped from ninth to 11th place in the Western Conference.

The Stars are six points out of the final playoff spot, thanks to another Detroit win on Sunday. The Red Wings have 74 points to the Stars' 68. Detroit has gone 3-1-0 since the break, while Dallas is 0-3-0.

Dallas does, however, have a game in hand on the Red Wings. It means they could really use a victory tonight in Washington, which won't be easy.

Mark Stepneski over at Andrew's Stars Page has his usual breakdown of the playoff race. The Wings are on pace for 93 points. So the Stars would need 25 points over the last 18 games to get to 93 points. Even that might not be enough to get in. Stars coach Marc Crawford believes the club will need 95 or 96 points to make it.

In a way, Dallas has been fortunate that several other teams around them have lost games and haven't jumped farther ahead (except Detroit, of course). Calgary won on Sunday, which doesn't help the Stars.

So what do you expect from Dallas in these next two games in Washington tonight and Buffalo Wednesday? I had predicted three points on this trip before it started, so I'll say the Stars lose tonight's game in a shootout. There's little evidence at this point to support that pick, so we'll just call it a gut feeling.

What do you think?