Preview: Stars & Sharks Face off Monday

Fortunately for the San Jose Sharks, the Dallas Stars aren’t a playoff team.

If they were, the Sharks might have a problem: In their last five games against playoff-bound clubs, the Sharks are 1-4-0. Worse yet, they were held to a single goal in each of the four losses.

This promises to be an interesting week for the Sharks. They kick off a four-game road trip at Dallas tonight, then fly to Minnesota for a Tuesday re-match with the Wild, who beat the Sharks 3-1 two weeks ago. The Sharks return to Dallas for a Friday night game before jetting to Nashville to battle the Predators Saturday.

The Sharks hope to use the two contests with the Stars to reset their game, return to playing winning hockey and rediscover the back of the net.

At the other end of the ice as well as the standings, the Stars head into Monday’s game with an eye on next season.

Management will spend the next three weeks evaluating players, deciding which ones to protect and which to expose in the expansion draft. Other decisions must be made as well: Do the Stars buy out one goalie or two? Do they offer head coach Lindy Ruff and his staff contract extensions? This summer promises to be a busy one for GM Jim Nill, and the remaining 19 days of the Stars’ season will influence and inform Nill’s decisions.

On an individual level, pending UFAs Patrick Sharp, Ales Hemsky and Jiri Hudler are playing for their next contract, whether that’s with the Stars or another club. Defensemen Jamie Oleksiak, Stephen Johns and Patrik Nemeth seem to be in a three-way battle for the final “protected” slot at that position. Adding to the blue line mix, Julius Honka is an expected call-up, as the Stars want to get him 8-to-10 more games at the NHL level this season. And role-players Remi Elie, Curtis McKenzie and Adam Cracknell hope to show they belong on the ice and skating a regular shift in Dallas next season.

Above all, the Stars and their fans need a reason to smile, to feel good about this team, if only for a night. If the team can extend the Sharks’ skid and send them to Minnesota with more questions than answers, well, that victory would be worth more than two points.

San Jose Sharks at Dallas Stars

American Airlines Center – 7:30 pm CST

Broadcast channels – FS-SW, CSN-CA

2016-17 Season Series: Mar. 12 – Sharks 5, Stars 1

San Jose Sharks: 42-22-7  91 Points

Road Record: 19-12-3

Hot Players: Logan Couture, Joe Thornton, Dylan DeMelo, Aaron Dell and Martin Jones  

Key Injuries: Melker Karlsson and Jannik Hansen

Projected lines:


Danny O’Regan – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski

Patrick Marleau – Logan Couture – Joel Ward

Mikkel Boedker – Tomas Hertl – Joonas Donskoi

Marcus Sorensen – Chris Tierney – Timo Meier


Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun

Paul Martin – Brent Burns

Brenden Dillon – David Schlemko


Aaron Dell


Dallas Stars: 28-33-10 – 66 Points

Home Record: 18-12-6

Hot Players: Brett Ritchie, Remi Elie and Ales Hemsky

Key Injuries: Jason Spezza, Antoine Roussel and Mattias Janmark

Projected lines:


Jamie Benn – Cody Eakin – Ales Hemsky

Remi Elie – Tyler Seguin – Brett Ritchie

Devin Shore – Radek Faksa – Patrick Sharp

Curtis McKenzie – Adam Cracknell – Jiri Hudler


Esa Lindell – John Klingberg

Dan Hamhuis – Greg Pateryn

Patrik Nemeth – Stephen Johns


Kari Lehtonen

Game Notes

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]1)[/miptheme_dropcap] Backup goalie Aaron Dell starts for the Sharks Monday night. Last Sunday in San Jose, Dell stopped 29 shots in a 5-1 win over the Stars. In 16 games this season, Dell is 10-4-1 with a GAA of 1.90 and a Save percentage of .936.

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]2)[/miptheme_dropcap] More Aaron Dell fun facts: He played parts of two seasons with the Allen Americans, backstopping them to a CHL championship in 2013. Also, Dell was passed over in the draft, considered (at 6-foot-0 and 205 pounds) “undersized” for the NHL.

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]3)[/miptheme_dropcap] Jason Spezza left Sunday’s practice with back spasms. He did not skate this morning and Ruff called him “doubtful” for tonight’s game, so expect Tyler Seguin to move back to center.

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]4)[/miptheme_dropcap] Jamie Benn skated Sunday and this morning, and pronounced himself “ready to go” tonight. After the morning skate, he spoke of the need for the Stars to “bring a solid effort every night” over the remainder of the schedule. The captain said he didn’t feel his team did that over the course of their recent road trip, so that’s the challenge going forward.

[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]5)[/miptheme_dropcap] Antoine Roussel and Mattias Janmark took part in the morning skate. Don’t expect to see them in a game anytime soon, though: Ruff reiterated afterward that Janmark won’t play this season, while a return for Roussel hinges on his ability to play without doing further damage to himself.