Dallas Stars logoDallas Stars

San Jose Sharks Have Opportunity To Take Control on Road Trip

MJ KasprzakSenior Writer IIFebruary 23, 2009

The San Jose Sharks embark on a four-game road trip to end February that is their second longest of the season and longest remaining trip in both length and distance. It starts tonight at 5 p.m. PST and ends Saturday at 4 p.m. PST in Montreal.

What a difference a week makes.

A week ago, this looked like an especially difficult trip. The Stars were surging toward what looked to be a certain fifth or sixth seed in the West, Detroit looked like it would challenge the Sharks for the top seed, Ottawa had won five straight through February 16, and Montreal had added Matthieu Schneider to their defense.

Now, the Stars have lost their best remaining skater, the Sharks' lead over the Wings has grown to three games (three points plus three games in hand), and Ottawa has dropped three.

Montreal's problems are the stuff of a bad movie: Alexei Kovalev being sent home for a couple games and the Kostitsyn brothers and Roman Hamrlik being linked to organized crime. Maybe Hamrlik should have used that connection to sabotage Alex Ovechkin's skates before he made him look so bad.

Perhaps more significantly, San Jose has four of its six injured players back for this trip. Defenseman Brad Lukowich has yet to play, but has been activated and took part in the pre-game skate before Saturday's game before the coaching staff decided to scratch him. Forwards Jody Shelley, Tomas Plihal, and Jeremy Roenick returned to play in that game.

Even an overtime/shootout loss Monday to Dallas would ensure a victory in that season series and keep the Sharks 12 games up on the second-place Stars, who would have just 23 games left to catch San Jose. You can see my preview of that game on The Hockey Writers.

The Sharks have a chance to mathematically ensure a playoff spot before the trade deadline if they win all four games on the trip and the first game back home against Dallas. While that is not likely, what looked like a trip in which the Sharks would be lucky to get three points now seems like one in which anything less than four would be a disappointment.

Look for San Jose to come away with five points, beating Dallas and Ottawa and taking Montreal to a shootout. They will go into March still holding a two-point and two-game lead on the Red Wings and possess as many points as the Bruins plus have a game in hand on them.

Where can I comment?

Stay on your game

Latest news, insights, and forecasts on your teams across leagues.

Choose Teams
Get it on the App StoreGet it on Google Play

Real-time news for your teams right on your mobile device.

Download
Copyright © 2017 Bleacher Report, Inc. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved. BleacherReport.com is part of Bleacher Report – Turner Sports Network, part of the Turner Sports and Entertainment Network. Certain photos copyright © 2017 Getty Images. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of Getty Images is strictly prohibited. AdChoices