Every season, the NHL schedule makers like to throw in something that makes you go “well that’s different”. This year, it was waiting until March to schedule every single game between the San Jose Sharks and the Dallas Stars.
How nice of them to give me a bonus match-up on my birthday, no less.
The last time these two teams met (in the olden days of 96 hours ago...) the Stars poured on a defensive effort unlike anything we’ve seen this season, locking down a 1-0 win. Many believe they outplayed the Blackhawks last night in their 3-2 shootout loss. All can agree that the goals against the Stars are allowing right now is a trend in the right direction.
San Jose went to Minnesota the day after their loss to Dallas and got a 3-2 win. They’ve been resting the two days since, and will now get the benefit of that rest as the Stars had to travel back home after their game last night. That will even out whatever home ice advantage the Stars could have, most likely.
So what can we expect tonight when these two meet again — and for the last time this season?
My guess would be more goals. The Stars will have heavier legs having played last night and the Sharks aren’t likely to get shutout again. San Jose is also feeling the heat from the Anaheim Ducks, who are now just two points behind them for first in the Pacific, after slumping to a 4-6-0 record in their last 10 games played.
They’ll be motivated to capture points against the Stars, who aren’t playing for anything significant in terms of standings/playoff positioning. Actually, with a loss tonight, the Stars would be mathematically eliminated from the playoffs altogether.
With the loss last night, and another game tonight, it’s likely head coach Lindy Ruff will do a little tweaking on defense to get some fresh legs in the lineup. So I’d expect to see Stephen Johns come back in. We’re also officially on #HonkaWatch, as the young blueliner is expected to play in these last stretch of games.
We’ll wait to hear what the lineup changes will be, but with the game and travel last night there’s no morning skate. It’s possible we won’t hear of any lineup changes until warmups tonight, so keep tuned as we report live from the American Airlines Center tonight. Puck drop is at 7:30 PM CST and you can find it on FSSW if you’re watching at home.