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Sharks vs. Stars Preview: Who the hell are these guys?

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San Jose hosts Dallas in first meeting of the season

Dallas Stars v San Jose Sharks Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Stars and Sharks last met on March 26, 2016. San Jose lost that game 4-2. Remember that game? Me neither, because it has been 351 days since then and a lot of stuff has happened. Dallas isn’t going to make the playoffs this year, much to the surprise of this writer while the Sharks are well on the way to making the dance for the second year in a row.

Don’t Write Off the Stars Just Yet: Yes, they just got thrashed 5-2 by the Ottawa Senators, but before that the Stars beat the Washington Capitals 4-2. Dallas is putrid defensively and its penalty killing literally could not be worse; but this team can score thanks to the dual threat of Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin.

San Jose struggled to score on Saturday against Nashville, tallying only one goal through Paul Martin of all people. That shouldn’t be a problem against a Dallas team that allows 3.19 goals per game. Compare that to the Predators (2.75) and it seems reasonable the Sharks will have a bit of an easier time against Dallas.

Goaltending has been the primary focus for the Stars’ struggles this year, but that approach is severely misguided. Dallas has gotten perfectly fine goaltending at even strength while it has suffered severely on the penalty kill. That (to me) speaks to an atrocious penalty kill more than it does to bad netminding. Your mileage may vary.

Dallas has also been mediocre in possession this season. The Stars are below 50 percent in both corsi and fenwick (score, venue adjusted according to corsica.hockey), which explains their struggles as much as anything else. They’ve sold some pieces and are very much ready for this season to be over.

This provides a great opportunity for the Sharks, who play the Stars three times to close out the season. Three (or hell, even two) wins against Dallas would give San Jose a nice cushion over its Pacific rivals as it looks to get its first division title since 2011.