The Dallas Stars look to shake off some of the struggles they've had lately in finishing games by continuing on the five game road swing with a stop in San Jose tonight to face the Western conference leading Sharks who are also on a bit of a demoralizing skid of their own having lost their last three games - all at home. Tonight's game against Dallas is San Jose's last chance to salvage what has been an unusually bad five game home stand for a team that before the stretch had only lost one game in regulation in the Shark Tank out of their first ten.
The Stars can at least draw some inspiration for tonight from the last time these two teams met up back on November 12th when Dallas rallied in the third period from a two goal deficit to draw even, force a shootout and then actually win it with an unlikely goal from Stephane Robidas.
Over the last few games for both teams it's been proven that no lead is truly safe no matter who you are. The Stars issues have been well documented here the past week, but last Friday San Jose had the St. Louis Blues come back very late in the third period to tie up a game and then win it in a shootout. Saturday they managed to get a 1-0 lead in the second period before giving back two goals to the Calgary Flames in a regulation loss. And then two days ago against the Los Angeles Kings the Sharks needed to claw back from two goals down with over half the game gone to force overtime, only to see a win taken away from them a little over a minute in.
So yes it's a late start tonight, but it's a Friday night and really you can just sleep in tomorrow. Given the unpredictable nature of these two teams lately, this game could be a last shot wins situation!
Follow the jump for a closer look at both teams and the medical reports...
The Dallas Stars:
So now that we've had a few days since the Ducks debacle to calm down and back off the ledge a little bit, we've come to realize that maybe things aren't quite as bad in Big D hockey wise as we think. We as fans have to realize that the young players on this roster are going to make mistakes, but it's not only something we should endure with in hopes that they have bright futures ahead of them, but that the Stars are not the first team to go through growing pains like this.
Strangely enough, NHL teams wait out kids every year. They have done it in Pittsburgh and Chicago and LA, and are seeing results. They have done it in Florida and Atlanta and Columbus, and you wonder if they will ever see results. It's a gamble, but it goes on all of the time in this league. It just hasn't happened in Dallas a lot.
Karlis Skrastins will be back tonight after missing a game with a lacerated finger and will be back paired with Trevor Daley. Bryan Sutherby practiced on the fourth line, but coach Crawford has stated he'll still be a game time decision. Outside of that don't expect too many lineup changes in San Jose. Marty Turco is expected to get the start. [Link to Heika's Thursday practice report]
Oh, and in case you needed a "real" hockey authority to truly explain what's been wrong with the Dallas Stars, you're in luck because Barry 'The Mullet' Melrose is here to break it down for you in video form complete with moving pictures n stuff! Ya know, with such a keen grasp of the obvious like that, it's hard to imagine how that guy isn't coaching again in the... ohhhh wait... right.
The San Jose Sharks:
Meanwhile in the Bay Area, the Sharks home woes as of late can be most likely pinned on their poor special teams - especially the team's dreadful powerplay which has not onlt gone 1 for 17 over the last four games, but in the last three games has given up four short handed goals!
While the players themselves may downplay a lack of confidence in the defensive abilities of the power play unit, coach Todd McLellan thinks that could easily be one of the main issues:
We're still going out there with the mentality that we can score goals," Patrick Marleau said. "Obviously knowing that we've given up some goals just means you come back a little bit harder."
But McLellan said there can be a connection."The correlation is called confidence," McLellan said. "I think your confidence gets rattled a little bit when you get scored on."knowing that we've given up some goals just means you come back a little bit harder."
Meanwhile, Sharks play-by-play guy Randy Hahn called his 1,000th NHL game on Saturday night and recalled his favorite and least favorite memories in that span of time. As you can imagine, a somewhat recent game that ranks as one of the best ever for Stars fans isn't as high up on Hahn's list:
"Game 6 in overtime, triple overtime, quadruple overtime — how many was it? — in Dallas," said Hahn of the 4OT loss to the Stars that ended San Jose's Stanley Cup dream in 2008. "To see it end that way, everybody spilling their guts out on the ice and still coming up empty, that one was a really bitter one to swallow."