The Dallas Stars received what should have been a gift from the scheduling gods this week- A non-playoff team from the Pacific Division. But for the second time in a month the Coyotes got the better of them and the margin was not particularly close.
As a result the Stars no longer singularly own first place in the Central's point race.
Without Tyler Seguin, Jason Demers and Kris Russell they must now go to San Jose to reclaim what had previously been theirs. The options for any more points this season are limited with the evidently unbeatable Coyotes, Kings, and Predators (2x) upcoming. It's quite an uphill battle for your Stars.
The Sharks' pursuit of home ice in a first-round series is particularly impressive when you consider that they're one of the absolute worst home-ice teams in the league with a 16-17-3 record in a building that not too long ago was considered to be one of the more impenetrable fortresses in the leauge.
That being said, it's a "What have you done for me lately?" kind of league- And the Sharks have won four of their last six games at the Tank. More notable than that is that they've not allowed anyone more than 26 shots there since January 24th, while in three of their last four they've poured on 37, 36 and 52 shots on goal.
So they can lay it on thick, and have been of late. Plus it's the Stars and the Sharks, and a couple of years in a different division doesn't change that. It may not be late-night wacky Pacific fun, but the capacity for intrigue is still there.
Here's their lineup or something close to it-
They're rolling with both netminders at times, like the Stars have done, and their media is in search of a starter for the playoffs-
"We think we've got two guys that we're very comfortable with and we'll see where we are when we have to make those decisions," head coach DeBoer told reporters yesterday. So we'll see who the Stars get tonight, though you'd think it won't be Reimer.
Reimer allowed five goals agains the Oilers earlier in the week. On 21 shots. Even strength shots. Not a single power play shot against.
And yes, that's still former fan favorite Brenden Dillon in the lineup on their third pair.
Rookie Joonas Donskoi has played himself into a critical role, to listen to most Sharks fans, but is questionable for this one due to a collision with Logan Couture Thursday night resulting in what's being called a muscular lower-body injury.
From Stars PR:
DO YOU KNOW THE WAY TO SAN JOSE
The Dallas Stars and San Jose Sharks play for the third and final time during the 2015-16 season on Saturday afternoon at SAP Center at San Jose. The Stars have collected points in both games this season against the Sharks (1-0-1) and have collected points in three-straight games (2-0-1) against them. In the most recent meeting of the season in San Jose on Jan. 16, the Sharks defeated the Stars, 4-3, in overtime. Captain Jamie Benn (0-2=2) and Tyler Seguin (1-1=2) recorded multi-point games for Dallas, with goals from forward Jason Spezza (1-0=1) and forward Ales Hemsky (1-0=1). In two games this season, Seguin (2-2=4) and forward Antoine Roussel (1-3=4) lead all Stars players with four points against San Jose this season.
ALES IN WONDERLAND
Stars forward Ales Hemsky registered a goal (1-0=1) on Thursday night against the Coyotes and now has points in three consecutive games (2-1=3) and has points in seven of his last nine contests (4-5=9). Earlier this month, Hemsky tied his season-high with a four-game point streak (2-4=6) from March 6 - March 12. In 31 games since returning from injury on Jan. 15 at Anaheim, Hemsky has tallied 20 (10-10=20) of his 33 (13-20=33) points this season. The native of Pardubice, Czech Republic has 33 points this season and ranks sixth on the club with 141 shots. In 36 career games against the San Jose Sharks, he has tallied 20 points (7-13=20).