The San Jose Sharks (20-11-6) will end their homestand this afternoon in a Saturday matinee game against the Dallas Stars (17-17-3). So far the Sharks have won every game so far and will be looking to keep it that way with their seventh in a row at home today.
The Dallas Stars, like the Sharks, are right in the middle of the playoff hunt although at the moment they are on the outside looking in. In fact, they are on the cusp of being eliminated as they sit five points back of St. Louis for the final playoff spot.
They had an odd schedule and had to face the Anaheim Ducks for three straight games and ended up going 1-2 in that span. Overall they are .500 in their last 10 games and will need to pull off a great comeback at the end of the season if they still want to crack the top eight.
Also against them are the losses of Jaromir Jagr, Brendan Morrow and Derek Roy who were all dealt at the trade deadline in order to build for the future. Without that firepower it will be very difficult for this Stars team to get into the playoffs.
Leading the way for the Stars (now that their former point getter Jagr is gone) is young center Jamie Benn who has eigth goals and 17 assists for a total of 25 points. He is second on the team in assists is defenseman Alex Goligoski with 19 and has accrued 20 total points. Meanwhile winger Loui Eriksson leads the team in goals with nine to go along with his 14 assists so far this season.
For the Sharks the Brent Burns experiment still looks to be paying off. He has now played 13 games as a forward and has tallied 13 points which includes five goals and eight assists. His play on the top line along with Thornton and Havlat has allowed McLellan to even out his lines (by putting Pavelski as the 3rd line center) which has enabled the offense to become more dynamic.
At this point I would not be surprised if Burns stays as a forward for the rest of the season (including the playoffs) and the Sharks revisit this situation in the offseason to see where they want to put Burns. They only reason I could see him going back to the blue-line would be if there were a major injury on defense.
What To Watch
The biggest news of the afternoon for the Sharks will be the debut of Raffi Torres in teal. While reactions are still to be mixed as far as fans and in the locker room he will no doubt bring a something a little different to the lineup that has been lacking for quite a while. His ability to play with a mean streak and strike fear into the opponents will quickly change the minds of many in the bay area, especially come playoff time. That plus he has the ability to score as well meaning he is not a liability on the offensive front.