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Can the Stars build on this?

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4-0-1.

Whatever way you slice it or spin it, the Stars are starting to play better hockey since the Avery implosion. Simpletons might attribute that to the team being de-Avery-ed, but the true key simply is that Marty Turco decided to finally play above a Washington Capitals webmaster level.


Obviously, though, even such promising signs of life must be seen through reality-colored glasses. The Stars are still the third worst team in the Western Conference points wise and they're about to face a murderous stretch as the world gets drunk and as the ivy paint goes up at Wrigley Field.

Galactus_medium

Tonight's one of the biggest games in that stretch as the Stars host the startlingly dominant San Jose Sharks. It's definitely a bigger game for Dallas, but the Sharks are about to enter a tough part of their schedule as well.

As indisputable as their tear through the league has been - hell, they've even kicked ass with Brian "don't call me Bobby" Boucher in net - one thing stands out to me: they've played 20 home games to 15 road games. Five of their next six games are on the road, so any skepticism about the Sharks being a Galactus-level world eating power will likely be erased.

(February, though, might be the truest test for the Sharkies: the month of chalky wordsmith candy and spousal pressure features a 5-game and 4-game roadtrip!)

If the Stars can win this game, they might just have the confidence to charge head-on to what will be a very tough stretch to end 2008 and being 2009. Realistically, though, they'll probably be lucky not to get blown out.

Prediction: Sharks win 5-3, Brad Richards gets ferklempt.