Originally posted on Fox Sports Southwest  |  Last updated 12/7/11
On Thursday night at HP Pavilion, the Dallas Stars start a five-game road trip by facing Pacific Division rival San Jose. These clubs have already met this year and it was the Sharks who handed Dallas a 4-1 defeat on Nov. 19, the second game of a back-to-back. Well, these clubs meet again at the Shark Tank on Thursday and the Stars are looking to start their five-game, bicoastal excursion off on a positive note with a favorable result against San Jose. "We've got a real tough game with San Jose. They came into our building and beat us and played hard," Stars head coach Glen Gulutzan said. "We just want to go back into their building, play hard and see what happens again. We thought we played a pretty good game against them. We took some penalties but played a pretty good game. We just want to bring that same game and see what transpires again." Dallas heads into this trip on a losing note, having dropped a 5-4 decision to the Islanders on Saturday. The Stars (15-10-1, 31 points) currently sit in second place in the Pacific just two points head of first-place Phoenix. After facing the Sharks, they will then head to Los Angeles to square off with another divisional foe in Saturday in the Kings, a team the Stars are 1-2-0 against so far this season. The Stars figure to get a pretty big boost against San Jose as a trio of injured regulars-defensemen Trevor Daley and Alex Goligoski plus captain Brenden Morrow, are all slated to return against the Sharks. "We'll definitely have two defensemen back for Thursday in Goligoski and Daley. Those two guys will be back and I'm sure Brenden is 90 percent ready," Gulutzan said. "If we waited until Saturday, he'd be 100 but he's real close. So I would expect he's a game player." And the man known as Goose, who last played in early November at Pittsburgh before suffering a broken thumb in his first game against the Penguins since coming over from the Steel City in a trade in February, is definitely ready to get back on the pond. "Yeah, I feel good. I feel I can play," Goligoski said. "It being injured wasn't horrible. You get three weeks and then you're close to getting back. You just do it. You get antsy." Daley and Morrow have both been out for the last few weeks with back injuries and both mainstays in the Dallas lineup are ready to get back. "You go one side of the country to the other side, it this trip is going to be tough, starting with San Jose. It's a divisional game," Daley said. "We know what we've got to do there. It's one game at a time, one shift and one period at a time and come home with some points." Fellow defenseman Sheldon Souray, who in his short time with the Stars, has become a big fan of both "Dales" and "Goose," will definitely be glad to see both blue liners return to the ice to hopefully help Dallas start the trip off on a good note. "It's huge, two huge pieces of the puzzle," Souray said. We talked at the beginning of the season and what they mean-their puck moving skills, their defending skills, just their ability to turn good defense into transition. We've been missing that. Those guys provide us with great things. Getting those guys back is going to be enormous." Once the western part of the trip is complete, Dallas will then fly cross country for three more games on the east coast against the Rangers, Islanders and Devils. Goligoski spent the last few years skating in the Eastern Conference, so he knows all too well how tough those games figure to be to end this trip. "I'm real familiar with them. New Jersey and New York, the Rangers are going to play a tight game, pretty defensive," he said. "Then, the Islanders, we saw them the other night, so we should be pretty familiar with them. It's not like it's completely different. There are some good goalies over there. We've got to make it hard on them and play good, hard road games." But if this is to be a successful trek for Gulutzan and company, the Stars will need to do one thing they haven't done much of in the last month, be consistent. "Last month was a little inconsistent for us. We haven't gotten off to playing as well as we would like so far this month," Souray said. "Now we go on the road and sometimes it's easier to play on the road. You just simplify your game, put your work boots on and your attitude just becomes a little more like we don't have to impress anybody. When we play the best, that's how we're playing. We're skating harder, thinking less and trying to make less perfect plays." And the seasoned d-man knows that with the standings in the West as tight as ever, this trip could loom pretty large for he and his teammates for the month of December. "We play a lot of good teams. It's going to be a big test for us," Souray said. "We can either come back from this trip in really good shape heading into the last couple of games before Christmas or we can continue to make things hard for ourselves."
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