The San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues square off for the second time this season as both teams aim to get back on the winning track. The Blues have not lost three regulation games in a row all season but have now dropped two straight: 5-3 to the Boston Bruins and 5-1 to the Los Angeles Kings. The Sharks split two games visiting the province of Alberta earlier this week, a 5-3 victory over the Edmonton Oilers and a 3-2 loss to the Calgary Flames.
Sharks’ Depth Returns
Coming into the season, the Sharks on paper figured to be one of the deepest teams in the NHL.
That distinction was tested with the continued absence of Tomas Hertl and ailments to the blueline. Hertl figures to be out at least a few more weeks with information conflicting on his exact timetable to return to action.
The defense has faced various bumps and bruises. Paul Martin missed his first game of the season against the Calgary Flames, leading to a last-minute addition of Mirco Mueller to the lineup, but the lineup card did not reflect the change. The flub resulted in Mueller being ruled ineligible and the Sharks playing with five defensemen for the game, with Tim Heed making his NHL debut.
DeBoer answers, what happened with Mirco Mueller tonight? pic.twitter.com/wvraurdLpj
— Kevin Kurz (@KKurzNHL) January 12, 2017
Both Paul Martin and David Schlemko are expected to play against the Blues, putting the Shark’s top-six back together. Dylan DeMelo underwent successful surgery last Thursday for a broken right wrist and will be out for the next eight weeks. Heed remains with the team as the extra defenseman.
St. Louis Goaltending Blues
The Blues have allowed five goals in back-to-back games for the second time this season, losing their last two contests by a combined score of 10-4. The Blues’ goaltending is simply terrible this year. The team save percentage sits at just .899% through 42 games. Jake Allen, a 2010 second round draft pick, stops 90% of shots against and backup Carter Hutton can’t even reach that mark. Especially concerning is the number of soft goals the tandem is giving up. They are drastically below the NHL average in low-danger save percentage.
The forwards are doing their jobs for the Blues. St. Louis features five skaters with at least 10 goals, led by Vladimir Tarasenko’s 20 markers. Robby Fabbri has also taken a step forward this season and ranks second on the team in goals (11) and points (26). However, the Blues’ goal differential of minus-1o is the worst of all teams that currently hold a playoff position.
St. Louis Blues at San Jose Sharks
SAP Center – 7:30 p.m. PST
Broadcast channels – CSN-CA, FS-MW
Radio: Sharks Radio Network
2016-17 Season Series:
Nov. 17, 2016: St. Louis Blues 3 – San Jose Sharks 2
San Jose Sharks – 25-15-2 (52Points)
Home Record: 14-5-1
Hot Players: Brent Burns, Mikkel Boedker, Joe Pavelski
Key Injuries: Tomas Hertl, David Schlemko
Patrick Marleau – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Mikkel Boedker – Logan Couture – Kevin Labanc
Timo Meier – Chris Tierney – Joel Ward
Micheal Haley – Tommy Wingels – Melker Karlsson
Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon – David Schlemko
St. Louis Blues – 21-16-5 – 47 Points
Road Record: 5-11-1
Hot Players: Jaden Schwartz
Key Injuries: Carl Gunnarsson
Alexander Steen – Paul Stastny – Nail Yakupov
Robby Fabbri – Jori Lehtera – Vladimir Tarasenko
Jaden Schwartz – Patrik Berglund – David Perron
Scottie Upshall – Kyle Brodziak – Ryan Reaves
Alex Pietrangelo – Colton Parayko
Jay Bouwmeester – Kevin Shattenkirk
Joel Edmundson – Robert Bortuzzo
1)Vladimir Tarasenko once again finds himself near the top in NHL scoring and leading the Blues as well. The Yaroslavl, Russia native ranks 6th in the NHL with 43 points. Tarasenko is especially deadly on the power play with 17 points during the man-advantage.
2)Brent Burns has gone from serious Norris Trophy consideration to a lot of talk of even a Hart Trophy recipient. Burns has 15 points (five goals, ten assists) in his last 14 games. The two-time NHL All-Star leads the Sharks with 17 goals and 44 points. He also continues to lead the NHL with 166 shots on goal and is fifth in the league in points.
3)In the last three contests, the Sharks’ fourth line has recorded four goals and six assists combined. The rotating bottom line includes Tommy Wingels, Melker Karlsson, Micheal Haley and Mikkel Boedker.
4)The Blues are in the middle of a three-games-in-four-nights road trip to the Golden State. They lost to the Kings on Thursday and head to Anaheim to face the Ducks tomorrow.
5)The Blues have a winning record all-time against the Sharks, going 53-32-7. St. Louis has not lost in San Jose since Nov. 29, 2013.