The separation of Pacific Division teams is beginning to take shape, and the San Jose Sharks and Edmonton Oilers are both in the lead group. The Sharks, Anaheim Ducks and Oilers are the Big Three in the division and each team has at least a 10 point lead over fourth place Vancouver Canucks. There are still some concerns with both San Jose and Edmonton. Can the Sharks count on the reemergence of their secondary scoring or is this just a blip on the radar? The Oilers blueline is a concern as is the overreliance on Cam Talbot in net.
Oilers Blueline impressing, but San Jose Unfriendly
The Oilers have been a surprise for many this year. There has always been a steady stream of offensive talent for the Oilers due to years of high lottery picks with Connor McDavid being the cherry on top. McDavid leads the Oilers in points and is riding a four-game point streak with two goals and four assists.
Cam Talbot continues to keep the Oilers in games and making sensational starts night in and night out in front of a defense that for the most part has done their job. Matt Benning was an underrated UFA signing who leads the Edmonton blueline with a Corsi-for rating of 54.9 percent. The list of names on the Oilers defensive depth chart has combined to give the Oilers a surprisingly solid stable of rearguards. The oft-maligned Kris Russel is the only regular defender with a negative Corsi rating (46.8). The blueline and Talbot will need to sharp to get a win in the unfriendly confines of SAP Center. Over the past 10 season, the Oilers have only managed eight wins in San Jose.
Roster Regaining Shape for Sharks
For the first time since Nov. 17, Tomas Hertl will be in the Sharks lineup tonight against the Oilers.
There is no word on where Hertl will slot into the forward lines that have been humming during the Sharks’ six-game winning streak. The Sharks are still sorting out their roster that has been thrown into flux with trades, waivers and injuries. San Jose sent down Barclay Goodrow and recalled Tim Heed to serve as the seventh defenseman for tonight’s game. Heed played last night against the Stockton Heat and had a power-play goal and an assist in the 5-0 victory for the San Jose Barracuda. Rookies Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc were both part of paper moves yesterday to help the Sharks trim some dollars from the salary cap. Both wingers were reassigned and then returned to the Sharks later in the day. Labanc should be in the mix tonight, his only two-goal game in the NHL came against the Oilers back on Dec. 23, including the overtime winner.
Per Coach DeBoer, Tomas Hertl is back in the lineup tonight. #SJSharks
— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) January 26, 2017
Despite the rotation of forwards, Patrick Marleau is white hot. He currently is two goals away from 500 for his illustrious and Hockey Hall of Fame worthy career. Joe Thornton is nearing his own milestone as well, with just eight assists until 1,000 helpers.
Edmonton Oilers at San Jose Sharks
SAP Center – 7:30 p.m. PST
Broadcast channels – CSN-CA, SNW
Radio: Sharks Radio Network
2016-17 Season Series:
Dec. 23: Sharks 3 – Oilers 2 (OT)
Jan. 10: Sharks 5 – Oilers 3
San Jose Sharks – 31-16-2 (64 Points)
Home Record: 17-6-1
Hot Players: Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Logan Couture, Patrick Marleau
Key Injuries: Dylan DeMelo, Micheal Haley
Melker Karlsson- Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Patrick Marleau – Logan Couture – Kevin Labanc
Mikkel Boedker – Tomas Hertl – Joel Ward
Timo Meier – Chris Tierney – Ryan Carpenter
Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon – David Schlemko
Edmonton Oilers – 27-15-8 (62 Points)
Road Record: 14-7-5
Hot Players: Leon Draisaitl, Zack Kassian, Connor McDavid
Key Injuries: Tyler Pitlick, Iiro Pakarinen, Darnell Nurse, Andrew Ference
Patrick Maroon- Connor McDavid -Leon Draisaitl
Milan Lucic – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Zack Kassian
Benoit Pouliot – Drake Caggiula – Jordan Eberle
Matt Hendricks – Mark Letestu – Jujhar Khaira
Oscar Kelfbom – Adam Larsson
Andrej Sekera – Matt Benning
Kris Russell – Eric Gryba
2)Patrick Marleau followed up his third period Rooster Trick against the Colorado Avalanche with a goal against the Winnipeg Jets. Marleau sits at 498 career goals and with his hot hand, could make history tonight against the Oilers.
Patrick Marleau's goal was the 498th of his career, tying him for 45th all-time with Hall of Famer Glenn Anderson
— Darin Stephens (@SharksStats) January 25, 2017
3)Connor McDavid’s generational talent continues to impress. The 20-year-old center leads the Oilers with 56 points in 49 games. His 40 assists have a healthy lead over second place Leon Draisaitl’s 25 helpers.
4)Brent Burns continues his Norris and Hart Trophy-worthy season. Burns leads the Sharks in goals (21) assists (30) and plus/minus (+16) and his 189 shots on goal continue to lead the NHL.
5)The Sharks are 52-39-12-9 all-time against the Oilers. In their last 32 matches, the Sharks own a stellar record of 23-4-5 against Edmonton.