Gameday Preview: San Jose Sharks @ Dallas Stars (7:30pm CDT)


Next Game

San Jose Sharks
@ Dallas Stars

Wednesday, Mar 31, 2010, 7:30 PM CDT
American Airlines Center

Local TV: My27

Radio: 1310 The Ticket (listen online @ stars.nhl.com)

Complete Coverage >


The Dallas Stars will finally face the prospect of mathematical elimination tonight as they meet the Sharks for the sixth and final time this year.

A Colorado win, couples with a Stars regulation or overtime loss would put the Avs up ten points with 5 to play (or an Avs OT or shootout loss with a Stars regulation loss). Either way, should Colorado end the night with a 10 point lead on Dallas, then it's over. The Stars could still technically catch them on points, but not on wins, thus losing an important tiebreaker. The perceived inevitability of this has been carried by Stars fans for weeks. That it might happen with only 5 games to go really shows you just how hard it is to get yourself mathematically eliminated. (And also how ludicrous the idea is of adding more playoff teams is.)

Dallas owns a 3 games to 2 series edge over the Sharks this season, so the best San Jose can hope to do is knot things at 3 a piece. I won't bore you with the statistics that illustrate how much San Jose loves to play in Dallas. You know them by now at this point of the season. The 8-2 win two weeks ago was an aberration; Part of the Sharks six game swoon. Since ending it, they've scored 15 goals in 4 games while allowing only 6. If the Stars want to help out the Coyotes tonight, it's going to be a very tough test.

Follow the jump for tonight's starting netminder, injuries, and other goodies...

The Stars:

Mike Heika reports that Marty Turco will get the start in goal tonight (your welcome, Sharks fans?) which is a curious thing because of the back to back coming up on Friday/Saturday. His hunch is that Crawford (or GM Joe) would like to test Lehtonen's conditioning in the back to back against Edmonton and St. Louis. "Why not?", I say.

Razor weighs in on the Ribeiro situation and says Crawford handled the whole thing himself:

I’ll give Marc Crawford credit for doling out the punishment himself. Crow told him he wasn’t going to play in a brief 1-on-1 meeting on the ice after the morning skate in Anaheim and then put him through a hard skate. He could have had an assistant coach do both but he handled it all up front and by himself, and he did it knowing full well they’d be shorthanded for the game that night, and he did it with the full support from his General Manager.

Do you think that this close to the end of another failed season, we'll see a fiery Mike Ribeiro tonight? Or one for which apathy has set in? It's not like Ribeiro is a young guy playing for a job next season. (Or is he?)

Meanwhile, Mike Modano will participate in the morning skate and then practice tomorrow, hopefully making his return to the ice on Friday against western conference power-house, The Edmonton Oilers.

A lack of practices lately makes it hard to judge line combinations, but as I discussed yesterday, it seems that Neal is back with Richards and company (at least for the last two games), so perhaps we'll something like this..

Neal-Richards-Eriksson
Morrow-Ribeiro-Segal
Ott-Benn-Lehtinen
Petersen-Sutherby-Fabio


The Sharks:

Fear the Fin deals with the loss of Joe Thornton for at least a game, and perhaps tonight as well, though he's on the trip:

Following a brutal collision with the boards during the second period against the Vancouver Canucks, Thornton was scratched for the first time in San Jose with what is reported to be a "day to day lower body injury". Looking at the tape of the collision, it is clear that this is a right knee ailment, with varying degrees of severity depending on who you ask. How long he will remain on the shelf, of course, remains to be seen.

David Pollak of Working The Corners reports that Thornton will undergo diagnostic testing today. As of right now, he is slated to travel with the team on their upcoming four game road trip which will end in Calgary a week from tomorrow.

He had played in 379 consecutive games for San Jose before missing their last.

The Mercury News asks whether or not the Olympics were to blame for the Sharks brief slide:

"People are trying a little too hard to look for patterns," said defenseman Dan Boyle. "The first game back it was an issue. I was a little tired. After that though, I haven't felt any different."

Even after winning four in a row, the Sharks are a pedestrian 7-6-1 since the Olympics. And considering San Jose had eight Olympians — the most in the NHL — it's fair to wonder if there has been any residual hangover.

"There's no way to quantify it," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "I'm just not sure how much we tag to the Olympics. Have our Olympians been at the top of their game since they've been back? I don't think so. But as for the ones who didn't go to Vancouver, there's no excuse."

 

Injuries:

Dallas: Modano (appendectomy), Wandell (knee), Barch (lower body) are out.

San Jose: Joe Thornton (lower body) is questionable.

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