I’m a standings watcher. Sane people wait until after the All-Star Game, at least, to start worrying about the standings, but I watch them from the first game of the season.
As a Stars fan, I’m pretty spoiled. I don’t remember when we weren’t fighting for the division lead, so after the first game of the season I start getting all worked up about whether we are in the lead. I keep my eye on the division all year and I watch our division rivals and root for them to lose.
This season we’ve been neck-and-neck with the San Jose Sharks most of the way. The Anaheim Ducks have been kind of up and down, so they’ve been close to us and far from us. The Los Angeles Kings, bless their hearts, have been way back. Still, I only root for them to win when they’re playing the Sharks or the Ducks. And the Phoenix Coyotes are sneaking up on us. I haven’t been paying too close attention to them, because I figured they were way behind, but now I have to actively hope they lose as much as possible, too.
The Sharks currently have four games in hand on us. It’s been as many as six. For the casual fan, games in hand are the difference between the number of games played by two particular teams. The Stars have played 58 games and the Sharks have played 54. So, when you’re, say, 3 points a head of a team, but they’ve played 4 fewer games, you have to keep in mind that they have some catch-up games. If you assume they will win their games in hand, then you’re not really ahead of them.
We actually have a game in hand on the Ducks right now, and they’re also 4 points behind, so I feel a little farther ahead of them than I do the Sharks.
So, while I’m fretting about the Pacific Division standings, and taking every loss as if it will kick us out of playoff contention, the Stars did something interesting.
They passed the Ottawa Senators to reach second place in the entire league.