Game Preview: San Jose Sharks @ Dallas Stars (2:00pm CDT)
Is Jamie Benn also awesome in a matinee? Probably.
The Dallas Stars still have a lot to work on after an 8-2-0 start, but they're also learning that they have enough skill, and now maybe just as importantly - poise, to dig themselves out of big holes.
"It wasn't a perfect game," Patrick Sharp said of Thursday's comeback against Vancouver, "but we played well in spurts. One thing we are learning is we are never out of a game and we have some fire power in here, we have some speed, and we are well conditioned so we are going to play great right until the end. I think that's what happened tonight."
The Stars have fallen behind by multiple goals on each of the first three games of this home-stand that ends this afternoon. Twice they overcame it, once they did not. Today they'll look to end the stint on a strong note before taking off for four more on the road.
They'll seek points 17 and 18 in the month of October today against the hated San Jose Sharks, and they'll do it at the rather unusual start time of 2:00pm CDT owing to the holiday. So come on out, bring your costumes. The people watching will be just as good as the hockey today...
Nine(!) of Dallas' next eleven games come against the Eastern Conference, which limits the Stars' ability to use this hot start to do what they desperately need to this season - take points away from their Western competitors. They'd like to grab this chance today against a likely competitor for a wild card spot down the line.
Dallas played only one such early game last season - a 1:00pm start against the Wild in mid-November that turned into a frustrating 2-1 loss. That was part of a 3-6-3 start against the West last season.
The Stars used these lines for practice on Friday, though in-game situations have mixed lines most nights recently in the second periods and onward:
Kari Lehtonen hasn't played in a few nights, but with Niemi's old mates in town you'd expect him to get the nod. The situation in goal has not been particularly predictable, so we'll check the media reports after morning skate.
San Jose started better than Dallas did, technically, with a perfect 4-0 beginning to their 2015-2016 that included two wins over division foes. They've lost four of five since and are left to ponder what kind of team they are.
In a three-game stretch they allowed 14 goals to the Kings, Rangers and Islanders. In their other six games they've allowed a total of six goals. Magnificently stingy, unless they're not.
On the other side of the coin they've been equally as hit or miss - held to one goal or fewer in four of their nine contests, but will occasionally rise up and drop five on you (Kings, Hurricanes, Capitals).
Like many in the West they will live and die with their goaltending, and Martin Jones has been lights out back there posting a .938 save percentage, a 1.74 GAA and two shutouts in eight starts.
They'll be looking to get healthy on their power play, a unit which has connected just once in its last 19 attempts, and only three times altogether in the young season. They've not played a Western Conference road game since their opening night win in Los Angeles over the Kings.
Their lineup, or something like it:
Logan Couture is out 4-6 weeks after fracturing his fibula. Young Tomas Hertl has been filling his shoes in the 2C spot.
From Stars PR:
"WE'RE GONNA NEED A BIGGER BOAT!"
The Dallas Stars take on the San Jose Sharks for the first of three times in the 2015-16 season, wrapping up a four-game homestand (2-1-0) with an afternoon matchup against their former Pacific Division rival. The Stars went 1-2-0 against San Jose last season, losing both matchups at American Airlines Center. In their most recent meeting on April 6, 2015 at SAP Center, the Stars won, 5-1, behind a three-point outing (2-1=3) from captain Jamie Benn and multi-point games from center Jason Spezza (0-2=2) and forward Tyler Seguin (0-2=2). Seguin has recorded points in three-straight games against the Sharks (3-3=6) and has points in four of his last five games against them (4-3=7). In eight career outings against San Jose, the native of Brampton, Ont. has posted eight points (5-3=8).
I'VE BENN WALKING ON SUNSHINE... OOO-OH
Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn tallied two points (1-1=2) including the game-winning goal in overtime against the Canucks and now leads the NHL in goals (9) and points (17). Benn's 17 points (9-8=17) through the team's first 10 games of the season are the most recorded by a Dallas Stars player. He has the most points since the start of the 2014-15 season (104 points) of any player in the NHL. Benn enters Saturday's contest riding a three-game point streak (3-4=7) and has recorded points in nine of his 10 games this season. Over the course of his NHL career, Benn has played 28 games against the Sharks and has recorded 24 points (9-15=24), including points in each of his last three games against them (2-4=6).