DALLAS A lengthy flight halfway across the country always provides a good chance to get caught up with news from around the league.
KURZ: Sharks vs. Stars, what to watch for
While perusing the daily clips on Wednesday, I immediately flipped to the Dallas Stars, of course. Theres one thing thats abundantly clear and jumps off the page (screen?) after reading some of the material coming from here in the Lone Star State, and that is - when the Sharks take the ice at the American Airlines Center on Thursday night, they will be facing a supremely confident group.
RELATED: Momentum swings help, hurt Sharks
Dallas 7-0-1 surge has it atop the Pacific Division, when it appeared as recently as a couple weeks ago that the team would inevitably miss the Stanley Cup playoffs for the fourth straight season. Buyers at the trade deadline were scanning the Stars roster, looking to poach a player or two for the stretch run.
Instead, the Stars kept their team together, and their success since even has one writer wondering if the club can make the sort of run that some of its neighbors did the past two seasons namely, the 2010 Texas Rangers (who lost the World Series) and 2011 Dallas Mavericks (the defending NBA champions).
Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News writes:
Sure, blow the thing up, trade everyone who could be a UFA in the summer. Go with kids, stock up on draft picks, fall to the floor of the NHL and hope for as many losses as possible. Isnt that what a great many of us thought just two weeks ago?
And now what? Could this team really win the Pacific Division and get home ice in the first round of the playoffs? Could they possibly go a round or two deep? Could they join the Rangers and Mavericks as miraculous stories?
Who knows? Thats why we watch.
As for the players themselves, theyre riding high after a comfortable 5-2 road win over the powerful Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday, their third in a row.
Mike Ribeiro told the AP:
"We just stuck with our game plan and kept pushing forward. It's a team concept right now, and everyone's doing the right thing."
The Sharks, on the other hand, are at the other end of the spectrum. The team has won just four of its last 16 games after a 5-2 win over the Stars on Feb. 2, and dropped three of four games at home leading up to this pivotal four-game road trip.
San Jose, which had a 10-point lead on the Stars after beating them in early February, now trails Dallas by three points with two games in hand. A win over the streaking Stars would likely do a lot for their own confidence as they look to turn things around and secure a fifth straight division crown.
Will the confidence factor play a role in what may be San Joses biggest game of the season?
Well find out soon enough.