The San Jose Sharks and Los Angles Kings squared off in the NHL’s last game of 2016 and now are set to get the 2017 part of their schedules going against each other as well. The Sharks hold a 2-1 edge in the season series but the Kings won on New Year’s Eve by a 3-2 score behind Peter Budaj’s 18 saves.
Sharks Reinforce Blueline
The San Jose Sharks boast one of the deepest bluelines in the entire NHL and it’s will get its first big test tonight against the Kings.
Mirco Mueller will slot into the lineup after being recalled from the San Jose Barracuda yesterday. The Sharks will be without the services of their two-way defensive anchor Marc-Edouard Vlasic for the second straight game as he continues to recover from a scary puck to the face against the Philadelphia Flyers that saw both teams immediately motion for the trainers. The Sharks placed Vlasic on the injured reserved list so he’ll remain out for the next few games before being eligible to return later this month.
— Dennis Schellenberg (@ScoutingFactory) January 3, 2017
The interesting thing is many observers of the Barracuda are not so sure this is the correct call. Former SHL defender Tim Heed has been a stellar offensive catalyst for the young Barracuda team with seven goals and 20 assists, good for 5fifth among defenseman in the AHL and second only to Danny O’Regan on San Jose. Heed’s partner, Joakim Ryan has been the most impressive two-way rearguard of the Sharks prospects, showing growth in year two on the blueline.
Mueller up and in is puzzling most call ups this far have been on merit.
— Ian Reid ???? (@IanBlogsHockey) January 3, 2017
In the end, it was Mueller who got the call and he’ll be in for the foreseeable future as well.
Martin Jones will again get the start for the Sharks. Jones will be making his start number 33 for head coach Peter DeBeor. Jones is second in the NHL in minutes played by a netminder. Ahead of Jones is Oilers goalkeeper Cam Talbot, who has two games in hand on San Jose’s top goalie.
Budaj Solid for Kings
Peter Budaj is the Kings best player of late, posting a .955 save-percentage, 1.28goals-against average and a pair of shutouts in his last seven starts. Budaj, 34, spent last season backstopping the AHL’s Ontario Reign en route to AHL Goaltender of the Year honors.
Since stepping in for Jonathan Quick the Slovakia netminder has provided superb goaltending for the Kings, Budaj’s statistics this season filling in for the Kings franchise goalie have been actually better than the career numbers of Quick.
Los Angeles Kings at San Jose Sharks
SAP Center – 7:00 p.m. PST
Broadcast channels – NBCSN
Radio: Sharks Radio Network, KABC 790AM
2016-17 Season Series:
October 12 – San Jose Sharks 2 Los Angeles Kings 1
November 30 – San Jose Sharks 4 Los Angeles King 1
December 31 – Los Angeles Kings 3 San Jose Sharks 2
San Jose Sharks – 23-13-1 (47 Points)
Home Record: 13-4-0
Hot Players: Kevin Labanc, Patrick Marleau
Key Injuries: Tomas Hertl, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, David Schlemko
Patrick Marleau – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Mikkel Boedker – Logan Couture – Kevin Labanc
Timo Meier – Chris Tierney – Joonas Donskoi
Micheal Haley – Melker Karlsson – Joel Ward
Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Brenden Dillon – Justin Braun
Mirco Mueller – Dylan DeMelo
Los Angeles Kings – 18-15-4 (40 Points)
Road Record: 7-11-3
Hot Players: Peter Budaj
Key Injuries: Jonathan Quick, Tyler Toffoli
Marian Gaborik – Anze Kopitar – Dustin Brown
Tanner Pearson – Jeff Carter – Devin Setoguchi
Dwight King – Nic Dowd – Trevor Lewis
Kyle Clifford – Nick Shore – Jordan Nolan
Derek Forbort – Drew Doughty
Jake Muzzin – Alec Martinez
Kevin Gravel – Brayden McNabb
1)Logan Couture looks forward to facing the Kings.
In three games this season, the Sharks second line center has five points in three games. Couture in his career has 13 goals and 12 assists in 32 games against San Jose’s in-state rival, the second most against any team in his career.
2)Brent Burns game notes update: Burns has at least a point in 10 of his last 12 games. The two-time NHL All-Star leads the Sharks with 15 goals and in points with 35. He also continues to lead the NHL with 155 shots on goal.
3)The San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings are 10th and 11th, respectively in shots per game. The Sharks are firing 30.5 pucks on target per game and the Kings are right behind them at 30.2 in each contest.
4)Jeff Carter leads the Kings in both goals (20) and assists (11). Carter has six power-play and one short-handed goals and seven of his markers have been game winners as well.
@LAKingsFrance1 3-1 Kings! And Jeff Carter will score… He always scores.!
— LA KINGS FANS UK (@UKKingsCrew) January 3, 2017
5)The Sharks are 8-2 in their last 10 games and after the Kings snapped their three-game skid against the Sharks, Los Angeles is holding steady at .500 in their last ten matches.
6)San Jose is 74-55-7-8 all-time against the Kings. Neither team has ever swept the season series, a trend that will continue after Los Angeles’ victory on December 31.