Stars at Sharks Preview: San Jose looks to avoid series sweep
Stars smarting after 6-3 loss to Ducks last night.
The San Jose Sharks (16-11-5, 3rd Pacific) will host the Dallas Stars (16-12-3, 4th Central) tonight in the final meeting of the regular season between these two teams. The Sharks are trying to not get swept in the season series. The Stars won the previous two meetings, a 4-3 win on Nov. 8 and a 3-2 win on Dec. 7.
With 37 points, the Sharks sit in 3rd place in the Pacific Division, just two points back of the Anaheim Ducks.
As for the Stars, they have 35 points and occupy the 4th spot in the Central Division. Dallas could be a little testy during tonight’s game. The Stars played last night in Anaheim, where they basically folded in the third period. Dallas entered the third with a 3-1 lead, but then allowed the Ducks to score three unanswered goals and tack on an empty netter for good measure. Ducks won 6-3.
When it comes to offensive fire power, Tyler Seguin remains the top scorer for the Stars with 26 points (8 goals, 18 assists). Jamie Benn leads the team with 12 goals and 30 penalty minutes. Then, of course, there’s young rookie defenseman Miro Heiskanen, who has 15 points (5 goals, 10 assists) this season. Two of those points came against the Sharks.
Ben Bishop was in goal for last night’s loss to the Ducks, so I imagine Anton Khudobin will be in net tonight. Not that it really matters — Bishop made 41 saves in the Dec. 7 win, while Khudobin made 33 saves in the Nov. 8 win.
More lineup changes...maybe.
The two-day layoff saw the San Jose Sharks do a little shuffling between the big club and the San Jose Barracuda. Antti Suomela is down with the ’Cuda getting a little conditioning. Fear the Fin writer Sheng Peng talked to Head Coach Pete DeBoer about what he wanted to see from Suomela before he gets another shot.
DeBoer, on what he wants Suomela to work on with Barracuda. I spoke with another scout who echoed that Suomela has to improve his pace: pic.twitter.com/E7sOGZteTH— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) December 12, 2018
Up from the Barracuda is Rourke Chartier and he may actually slot into the lineup tonight. Joe Thornton took a maintenance day yesterday and is considered day-to-day. He’ll likely get the night off if he’s not 100 percent. During practice yesterday, Chartier slotted into Jumbo’s center position on the third line with Kevin Labanc and Marcus Sorensen.
Other than that, the lines were the same as last game’s win. That means Lukas Radil was back on the fourth line.
Have the Sharks finally found their game?
Tonight’s game is really a litmus test to see if the Sharks have turned the corner. The past month or so of hockey has been inconsistent for San Jose with a few wins followed by a few losses. San Jose has two wins after beating the New Jersey Devils 5-2 on Monday and the Arizona Coyotes 5-3 on Saturday. The real question tonight is can the Sharks get that third win in a row? The team hasn’t done that since Oct. 18-23.
One of the real keys in the past two games was defense. The Sharks held opponents to three goals or less in both games. Now admittedly, the Sharks did that about a week ago in Dallas when they lost, but I’d like to think they were turning the corner then.
Are we ready to resign Joe Pavelski yet?
Joe Pavelski is 34-years-old and he’s having an amazing season. During Monday’s game, he netted his 20th goal of the season. The Sharks captain is shooting at 22.5 percent this season according to Rotowire and has the opportunity for a 50-goal season, something he has never achieved.
In his last five games, the Big Pavelski has scored 6 points (4 goals, 2 assists). Not without coincidence, the Sharks have won four of their last five games.
More than that, Pavs is the heart of the team. It would be tough to see the captain go and I’m not sure there’s someone there to fill the void if he left.
But the cap is going to be an issue. Earlier this month, Fear the Fin looked at what it would take to keep the team’s free agents including Pavelski. The bottom line, it’s going to have to be a shorter term given Pavelski’s age, but it will have to be a hefty number, especially considering the season he’s having.
Bold Prediction: An angry Dallas throws the body around and the game gets chippy early. The last time Dallas won was against the Sharks, but it won’t happen again. Martin Jones continues to stay on his game and the Sharks win 4-2.
Drop your predictions and comments below.