The San Jose Sharks and Arizona Coyotes shouldn’t be a match-up you would think to circle on your calendar, but the two teams have a history of tight games and Coyotes wins. The Sharks are trying for their eighth winning streak of eight or more games. The Coyotes will attempt to end a two-game skid of their own.
Mike Smith: Known Shark Killer
While the Desert Dogs are having another tough year at the bottom of the Pacific, all that goes out the window when the Sharks and Coyotes face off. If you were constructing a team specifically to beat the San Jose Sharks, Mike Smith would be your goalie.
In his career against the Sharks, Smith has a respectable record of 11-7-3. Allowing just 2.09 goals per game against San Jose is excellent. What stands out is his unconscious .944 save percentage to go with four shutouts, more than any other team in the NHL. The Coyotes will need more of Smith’s anti-Sharks work if they hope to break their three-game losing streak away from Gila River Arena.
Up front, Alexander Burmistrov has been a nice addition for the Coyotes. The Kazan, Russan native has one goal and five assists in eight games since being claimed off waivers from the Winnipeg Jets. Radim Vrbata has been the subject of plenty of trade rumors due to his age, production and $1 million salary. The veteran right winger leads Arizona with 35 points. Max Domi also is back for the Coyotes. He skated in his first game of 2017 on Feb. 2 and will inject speed and skill for the Coyotes.
Sharks Swimming in Goals
The Sharks are returning to health and got some much-needed rest during the All-Star break. The Sharks have 11 wins in their previous 13 games and many of the ills of the early season are starting to correct.
The return of Tomas Hertl sets the line-up with the smiling Czech inserted on the left wing of the top line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski. The secondary scoring is rounding into shape as well. Over the last two weeks, the Sharks bottom-six forwards contributed 11 goals to the bottom line during that same stretch.
Patrick Marleau scored his 500th goal in the NHL last time out, becoming just the 45th player in league history to hit that mark. Marleau made quick work of getting to 500: he has seven goals in his last five games.
Arizona Coyotes at San Jose Sharks
SAP Center – 7:30 p.m. PST
Broadcast channels – CSN-CA
Radio: Sharks Radio Network
2016-17 Season Series:
Nov. 1: Coyotes 3 – Sharks 2
Nov. 19: Coyotes 3 – Sharks 2 (Overtime)
Nov. 29: Sharks 2 – Coyotes 1 (Overtime)
San Jose Sharks – 33-17-2 (68 Points)
Home Record: 18-7-1
Hot Players: Patrick Marleau, Brent Burns
Key Injuries: Dylan DeMelo
Tomas Hertl – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Patrick Marleau – Logan Couture – Kevin Labanc
Kevin Labanc – Chris Tierney – Joel Ward
Timo Meier – Ryan Carpenter – Melker Karlsson
Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon – David Schlemko
Martin Jones (Expected)
Arizona Coyotes – 16-28-6 (38 points)
Road Record: 5-15-4
Hot Players: Radim Vrbata
Key Injuries: Brad Richardson
Tobias Rieder – Martin Hanzal – Radim Vrbata
Max Domi – Christian Dvorak – Shane Doan
Jamie McGinn -Alexander Burmistrov -Brenden Perlini
Lawson Crouse – Jordan Martinook – Josh Jooris
Oliver Ekman-Larsson – Luke Schenn
Alex Goligoski – Mark Stone
Jakob Chychrun – Connor Murphy
Mike Smith (expected)
1)Brent Burns continues to pace the Norris Trophy race. The Sharks dynamic defender leads the team and all NHL defenders in goals (22) points (55) and leads the NHL in shots on goal with 201.
2)Vrbata has been a mainstay in the trade rumors, with the San Jose Sharks said to be interested. He’s a veteran of 984 NHL games and for his career a solid 50.9 Corsi-for percentage despite playing six seasons since 2007 with a middling Coyotes squad.
3)Shane Doan is in his 21st NHL season. Doan is said to be available as a trade rental for one last kick at the Stanley Cup can. However, Mr. Coyote has only four goals and 12 assists this year and has not found the back of the net since Dec. 23. It could be hard to find suitors able to absorb his $3.87 million cap hit as well, even late in the season.
4)Marleau is the one of five active NHL player to score 500 goals along with Jaromir Jagr, Jarome Iginla, Alex Ovechkin and Marian Hossa. He joins Teemu Selanne and Jeremy Roenick as the only Sharks in the 500-goal club. Marleau is the second player to score his 500th goal as a member of the Sharks, joining Roenick in that distinction.
5)The Sharks own a all-time record of 70-49-7-11 against the the Coyotes, dating back to the franchise’s time as the Winnipeg Jets.