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Here come the Dallas Stars, red hot and ready to steamroll the hapless, one-win Toronto Maple Leafs.

They could create more havoc with the NHL's standings while they're at it, too.

The Stars come into Toronto for Monday night's meeting with a 9-2-0 record that ties their best start in franchise history and puts them second in the entire league after a terrific October.

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Montreal is getting most of the national headlines, but this team deserves a few.

Led by two of the best offensive players in the league (Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin), a breakout star on the blueline (John Klingberg) and far more capable goaltending than they had last season, Dallas suddenly looks like a threat to contend a year after missing the playoffs.

Dallas is also incredibly exciting to watch: the highest event team in the NHL – 118 shots attempted, for or against, per 60 minutes of play – through 11 games.

Major credit for the Stars' revitalization goes to general manager Jim Nill. When he left the Red Wings in 2013 after 15 years as Ken Holland's right-hand man, Dallas had missed the postseason five successive years and had a roster filled with aging players such as Ray Whitney, Stéphane Robidas and Erik Cole.

Now, built around Benn, Seguin and Klingberg, the Stars have a solid core of 10 players who are 26 years old or younger that's been bolstered by Nill's veteran additions like Jason Spezza, Patrick Sharp and Johnny Oduya.

There's quality youth there, but this isn't a group that's years away.

The biggest impediment to the Stars' success is likely the fact they live in the Central Division. It was already the best division in hockey a year ago, and only Colorado looks to be a non-factor in the race this time around.

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Dallas is obviously better. St. Louis is likely better, especially once everyone returns from injury. And Winnipeg has added significant skill in newcomer Nikolaj Ehlers, who has unfortunately been overshadowed by that other pretty good rookie in Western Canada, Connor what's his name.

Going into Sunday's games, the Central Division had five teams on pace for 112 points or more. The sixth-best team was the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks, who have 12 points in 11 games.

One quick look around the league quickly shows how big of an anomaly that is. The average team in the Metropolitan Division is on pace for 93 points, led by the impressive 8-2-0 Capitals. The average team in the Atlantic is on pace for 85, as the Leafs embarrassing pace (33 points) dragging that way down.

Due to the Anaheim Ducks implosion, meanwhile, the average Pacific Division team is on pace for only 74 points.

The Central? The average there is 110.

(The biggest reason for that gap is the Central's top six teams are a ridiculous 37-9-5 against the other three divisions in the early going.)

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That huge divisional imbalance could create some interesting problems given Gary Bettman's new division-heavy playoff format. If Dallas ultimately ends up being one of the NHL's best teams this year, the Central could well be home to six of the league's top 10 teams.

One would be guaranteed to miss the playoffs, as even with the two wild cards, there can only be a max of five teams from a single division in the postseason.

That means the league could potentially have a situation where a very good Central team like Winnipeg or Chicago has 95-plus points and misses out on a playoff berth and Calgary or Edmonton makes it with 90 or less.

Cue the outrage.

Cue the riots at Portage and Main.

The way the NHL has set up its format, it's not a matter of if but when this happens. And the debate is whether trying to force division rivalries in the first two rounds of the postseason is worth the cost of not having the best teams make the playoffs every year.

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Thanks to the Stars' meteoric rise, in the toughest division in the game, this appears to be the year that argument gets forced out into the open.

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