Coming off yet another disappointing performance against the Chicago Blackhawks, the Dallas Stars find themselves once again at a crossroads in the season. Either they recover and continue to hold a spot in the top eight in the conference or they slide even further down the standings. After putting together a remarkable December and January that saw the team climb out of the basement in the West, the Stars are just 6-4-0 in their last ten games. While that doesn't seem to be a tragic record, the fact remains that the Stars put themselves into a bad situation in the first half of the season. Now they are mired among seven teams all within eight points of each other and fighting for playoff position. While the Stars have slid from fifth to seventh Vancouver, Edmonton and Minnesota have all started to click and winning games in bunches. Dallas has managed to keep pace yet another loss would set the Stars behind from those around them and makes things even more difficult moving forward.
So now the Stars face a must-win game against the number one team in the NHL, the San Jose Sharks. The Stars are 0-3-0 against the Sharks this season and finding ways to beat the top team in the West can be difficult. The Sharks are able to suffocate a team defensively behind a big blue and amazing goaltending, yet can score points in bunches and seemingly at will. In their last three games against the Sharks have outscored Dallas 11-4. The Sharks have now won three in a row after going just 1-1-3 on their last road trip.
Yet the Stars also have a chance to use this game to build momentum once more and nab a big win on the national stage. With the only NHL game of the night, the Stars could knock off the #1 team in front of a national audience. The last time the Stars won againt the Sharks at home it was in one of the most thrilling hockey games ever played, a four-overtime marathon that Dallas won off a Brenden Morrow goal. Regaining some of that magic and reveling in the atmosphere of what should be a playoff-type game could go a long way for the Stars.
San Jose: D Brad Lukowich (sports hernia) is questionable. C Marcel Goc (lower body) and C Torrey Mitchell (leg) are out.
Dallas: RW Landon Wilson (ribs), C Brad Richards (wrist), LW Brenden Morrow (knee) and D Sergei Zubov (hip) are out.
Stats comparison, via NHL.com
|2008-2009 Team Stats|
|2||Power Play Rank:||21|
|4||Penalty Kill Rank:||23|
|.870||Win % When Leading After 1:||.889|
|.867||Win % When Leading After 2:||.880|
|.500||Win % When Trailing After 1:||.321|
|.357||Win % When Trailing After 2:||.050|