Since the Olympic break, the Sharks are 3-2-1. They've scored 20 goals in that time, and currently sit first in the Western Conference with a gaudy 96 points. They're 3rd in the league in goal scoring, 6th in GAA, 4th on the PP, and 1st overall on the PK, and yet somehow, some Shark fans these days acting nuttier than a squirrels cheeks in October. They're worried about collapse. Their players are worried about "coasting." Fear the Fin is counting the days since their last shutout?
Like when the Stars rolled into PITT a couple of weeks ago and the talk was "who was good enough to make their fourth line," it feels like Shark fans are trying to figure out which Mercedes they're going to drive to the super exclusive rich people club today, while Stars fans are rooting around in the gutter, desperately seeking their next meal. We're just hoping to win a game here and there. It's a truly dichotomous portrait of two fan bases.
The big story for Dallas tonight is the first home start for Kari Lehtonen, who will presumably start seeing more time down the stretch as the playoff race gets out of reach. It's hard to think of a better test, as the Sharks will throw a lot of rubber his way. They average the 6th most shots per game at 32.0.
San Jose has won their last 4 games at American Airlines Center going back to last season, and won their only game in Dallas this year in December 4-2. The Stars won both games in San Jose this year in shootouts. This is the first of three meetings in the next 16 days between the two.
Follow the jump for even more on the two teams and a Mike Modano update...
The good news coming out of the Modano household this morning is that his appendix had not ruptured, so his return timetable is thought to be as little as two weeks. He texted various media and said he was doing just fine after the surgery. Get well soon, Mike.
The lines on Sunday were (or at least started as)
Eriksson Richards Ott
Morrow Ribeiro Segal
Neal Benn Lehteinen
Barch Modano Petersen
So Modano's absence on the 4th line can be supplemented with Brian Sutherby, but the special teams are another matter. Then again, the special teams sunk them on Sunday, so change might not necessarily be a bad thing.
Dallas employed a more defensive oriented game plan against Los Angeles on Friday, and early in the Colorado game to varying degrees of success. Will Crawford keep that mind set to help his new goaltender out?
Said Brenden Morrow after the Avalanche game: "When you give up five goals, it's tough to win in this league," captain Brenden Morrow said. "Over my years in Dallas, that's not been indicative of our team. We've always been tough defensively. ... We've been soft in those areas this year."
You can check out our friends at Fear The Fin as they preview tonight's action:
As this season progresses and I see these kinds of results from the Stars, I keep wondering how will the club's ownership, management and fans feel when Dave Tippett gets Jack Adams Award this June?
But let's not concern ourselves with the Stars. Needless to say, with recent lackluster performances, and strong words of general dissatisfaction from Todd McLellan and Dan Boyle, the Sharks must take two points tonight.
What matters even more is what we'll actually see on the ice. We've already touched upon the general lack of consistent scoring and a wild line shuffling of forwards that McLellan is playing with, but let's touch upon another concerning trend that's been slowly emerging over the past few weeks.
Yes, we know. It hurts.
Or check out SB Nation option #2: Battle of California has they compare Sharks to Star Trek characters.
Does it seem odd to anyone else that the Stars and Sharks have gone an entire three months without seeing each other?
Dallas: Mike Modano (appendix), Tom Wandell (knee) are out. Nick Grossman (back) is questionable.
San Jose: Marc-Edouard Vlasic (knee) is out.