The San Jose Sharks and Detroit Red Wings will complete their season series tonight as the two teams face each other after very different results in their previous games. On Thursday night, the injury-ravaged Red Wings helped San Jose with a 4-0 clean sheet of the Los Angeles Kings on the back of Jared Coreau’s first NHL shutout.
The Sharks’ homestand continues after a 5-4 loss to the Minnesota Wild that featured a goal frenzy in the third period. The Sharks, without two regular defenders, struggled in front of Martin Jones, who gave up a handful of goals in a rare off night. One silver lining is the Sharks’ complementary scorers seem to have woken up of late. Joonas Donskoi, in particular, is starting to get going and is back on his 2015-16 scoring pace, which should help San Jose.
Sharks Ahead of Last Season
The team has relied on improved defense and timely scoring to stay in the hunt for the Pacific Division lead. Compared to last season, the Shark are scoring at about the same rate (97 goals vs. 93 goals last year) but have gone from 106 goals allowed last year down to 87 this year. While secondary scoring remains a concern and focal point for improvement, the Sharks’ Big 4 of Brent Burns, Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture and Joe Thornton continue to carry the bulk of the offense. Rookie Kevin Labanc is settling in nicely on the second line and already has 12 points since his call-up in November.
Jones is second in the NHL among goalies in minutes played with 1,998, which is behind only Edmonton Oilers starter Cam Talbot. Jones has given the Sharks an opportunity to win every night with a 2.19 goals-against average and his 19 wins are tied for third in the NHL.
— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) January 7, 2017
Woes Plentiful for Detroit
Detroit’s injury list is extensive. Jimmy Howard’s bounce-back year has been beset by injuries, but when he’s played he has been excellent.
Howard is allowing less than two goals per game and a save percentage of .934, both easily the best among Detroit netminders. Petr Mrazek has struggled after last year’s stellar performance and opened the door for third-stringer Jared Coreau to steal starts in the past two weeks.
The Red Wings’ power play has been nearly powerless, ranking 30th in the NHL at an 11.3 efficiency rating, moving head coach Jeff Blashill to move gritty forward Steve Ott to the power-play unit in hopes of sparking something. Most of these issues have been tied to the extensive list of injuries the Red Wings are currently facing. Mike Green, Darren Helm, Niklas Kronwall and Johan Franzen are just a few of the Detroit players out of the lineup. First round selection Anthony Mantha is taking advantage of the opportunity and earning top-line minutes. His 18 points are tied for fourth on the team and his 10 goals rank second.
Detroit Red Wings have the most man-games lost in NHL at 252. Washington Capitals are least injured team in the league with 10
— Man-Games Lost NHL (@ManGamesLostNHL) December 31, 2016
Detroit Red Wings at San Jose Sharks
SAP Center – 7:30 p.m. PST
Broadcast channels –CSN-CA, FS-D+
Radio: Sharks Radio Network
2016-17 Season Series:
October 22, 2016 – Red Wings 3 Sharks 0
San Jose Sharks – 23-14-2 (48 Points)
Home Record: 13-5-1
Hot Players: Brent Burns
Key Injuries: Tomas Hertl, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, David Schlemko
Timo Meier – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Joonas Donskoi – Logan Couture – Kevin Labanc
Patrick Marleau – Chris Tierney – Joel Ward
Mikkel Boedker – Tommy Wingels – Melker Karlsson
Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Brenden Dillon – Justin Braun
Mirco Mueller – Dylan DeMelo
Martin Jones (Expected Starter)
Detroit Red Wings – 17-17-5 (39 Points)
Road Record: 10-7-2
Hot Players: Jared Coreau
Key Injuries: Brenden Smith, Justin Abdelkader, Mike Green, Jimmy Howard, Darren Helm, Niklas Kronwall, Johan Franzen, Joe Vitale
Tomas Tatar – Henrick Zetterberg – Anthony Mantha
Gustav Nyqvist – Frans Nielsen – Thomas Vanek
Riley Sheahan – Dylan Larkin – Luke Glendening
Steve Ott – Andreas Athanasiou – Drew Miller
Dan DeKeyser – Nick Jensen
Jonathan Ericsson – Alexey Marchenko
Xavier Ouellet – Ryan Sproul
Jared Coreau (Expected Starter)
1)The Red Wings had a losing record in the months of November and December with matching 5-6-2 records and earned 12 points each month of the 2016-17 season.
2)Brent Burns game notes update: Burns has 15 points (5 goals, 10 assists) in his last 14 games. The two-time NHL All-Star leads the Sharks with 15 goals and 37 points. He also continues to lead the NHL with 155 shots on goal.
3)Waiving Long Beach, CA native Matt Nieto might have woken up some of the Sharks’ depth players. Joel Ward (goal and assist), Joonas Donskoi (goal) and Chris Tierney (assist) all found the scoresheet against the Wild.
4)The Red Wings have the worst power-play conversion rate in the NHL. They have recently taken to drastic measures to try to get the man-advantage going for the struggling squad.
Well, it looks like Steve Ott wasn't the answer to Detroit's power play woes. Shocking!
— Felix Sicard (@Felix_Sicard) January 5, 2017
5)The Sharks are 31-49-4-5 in franchise history against the Red Wings. Recent history has helped close that gap: San Jose is 13-5-1 versus Detroit in their last 19 meetings.