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Stars Look to Build on Momentum Against Sharks

Dallas arguably played its best game of the year against Vegas. Can the team maintain its momentum?

NHL: DEC 31 Sharks at Stars Photo by Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

A couple of favorable bounces on shots by Joel Kiviranta and Ryan Suter against the Vegas Golden Knights turned what was expected to be a showdown between the leaders of the Western Conference into a comfortable win by the Dallas Stars. The unexpected offense, however, wasn’t the story.

The story was the shutdown defense. That, combined with the excellence that is Jake Oettinger showed a team (even without its top line center) that could up its game to playoff level against a quality opponent.

Dallas Stars Lineup

Jason Robertson (21) – Tyler Seguin (91) – Joe Pavelski (16)
Jamie Benn (14) – Wyatt Johnston (53) – Ty Dellandrea (10)
Mason Marchment (27) – Luke Glendening (11) - Denis Gurianov (34)
Fredrik Olofsson (42) – Radek Faksa (12) - Joel Kiviranta (25)

Miro Heiskanen (4) – Colin Miller (6)
Esa Lindell (23) – Jani Hakanpää (2)
Ryan Suter (20) – Nils Lundkvist (5)

Jake Oettinger (29)
Scott Wedgewood (41)

With the success of Tyler Seguin centering the top line, the amateur cognoscenti have started to speculate about what to do with Roope Hintz when he makes it back to the lineup. I’d like to think that I was early to the party, but I doubt that me and my two Twitter followers make much impact in the larger social media landscape.

In any event, after half a season of struggles to find a scoring Seguin line, there are thoughts that Hintz might be the one to bring two middle six forwards into the battle. The lines that Pete DeBoer rolled out against Vegas at least give some hope that there is sufficient depth on this team to make a run. We’ll see if that holds up against a San Jose Sharks team that has split two games with the Stars so far this year.

San Jose Sharks Lineup

Timo Meier (28) - Tomas Hertl (48) - Michael Eyssimont (21)
Matt Nieto (83) - Logan Couture (39) - Alexander Barabanov (94)
Nick Bonino (13) - Nico Sturm (7) - Noah Gregor (73)
Jonah Gadjovich (42) - Steven Lorentz (16) - Oskar Lindblom (23)

Jaycob Megna (24) - Erik Karlsson (65)
Marc-Edouard Vlasic (44) - Matthew Benning (5)
Scott Harrington (4) - Mario Ferraro (38)

James Reimer (47)
Kaapo Kahkonen (36)

You can’t talk about this years Sharks without starting with Karlsson, who his having his own past the sell by date renaissance. There are pieces on this team that were part of the Sharks when they were good, but you have to wonder - given age and cost - how San Jose management expects this rebuild to go.

This is a team that is spending more for Martin Jones to be the starter for the top of the Pacific Seattle Kraken then they are for their primary starter. Throw in Brett Burns’ retained salary and a load of pucks, and the Sharks are bleeding cap space in excess of $5 million for another year.

The team is too good to tank while being too old to load up on prospects (never mind that the San Jose Barracuda don’t have much on their AHL shelf). Apparently, management thinks that having a building called the Shark Tank is enough.

Keys to the Game

Focus. Great game against Vegas. Next.

Focus. First of a back to back after a month on the road.

Focus. Shutouts don’t happen all the time. Don’t make your netminder win this one.