The San Jose Sharks (21-12-7) take on the Dallas Stars (19-17-3) on the final game of their four-game road swing. So far San Jose is 1-1-1 and has neither gained nor lost any ground although a win tonight would put some more distance between them and the Stars who are chasing them.
Dallas is coming off of a big win 5-2 against Nashville last night and have now won four in a row. One of those four was against the Sharks who they beat 5-4 in a shootout after overcoming a pair of two-goal deficits. San Jose hopes to not see that happen again.
Also, Columbus picked up a big win against the Blues that even helped the Sharks stay one point ahead of the Blues. With that, San Jose stayed in the fifth spot for at least another night. The playoff picture is still wide open minus the division leaders who have all pretty much sealed their fates, so anything can still happen.
With that shortened season there are still plenty of teams who are in the race and one of those things that can happen is that the Sharks could fall out of the race entirely. As a matter of fact, if they lose two in a row while the others chasing them win two in a row, they could fall to eighth. With eight games left to play thats plenty of time for a team to either shoot up a few spots or drop like a stone in the standings. The positive thing here is that San Jose is in complete control of their destiny.
Tonight is another tough matchup with the Stars getting hot at the right time. During their four-game win streak a number of guys have also gotten hot for them including young winger Alex Chiasson and former Shark Ray Whitney. Chiasson has five goals, one assist and is a +4 in his first five games as a pro. Whitney has logged three-straight two point games which comes to three goals and three assists over that span.
For the Sharks it was pretty much a two-man show against Detroit and will be looking for more of a team effort tonight. It was good news for Patrick Marleau who had been scoreless in his previous five games although he had been playing pretty well despite the points. Overall Marleau still leads the team with 17 goals on the season while Logan Couture trails him by one with 16.
Since Dallas is playing the second game of a back-to-back tonight, if San Jose can come out strong it would bode well for them. At this point of the season combined with the condensed schedule everyone is tired and sore, but you have to work with every little thing to give you the edge at this point in the season.