Sharks Gameday: Going Back Home

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7:00 PST
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1-2-0, 2 points 1-1-0, 2 points
T-12th in Western Conference T-12th in Western Conference
Television
CSN-CA (HD)
Radio
98.5 KFOX, Sjsharks.com
Antagonists
St. Louis Gametime
St. Louis Dispatch

Coming off a disappointing outing against the Anaheim Ducks on Friday night, the Sharks get a quick chance to clean up their game and get back on the ice tonight against the St. Louis Blues.

After giving Anaheim the run around during the initial ten minutes of the tilt, a Dan Boyle interference penalty at the 10:49 mark of the first period began to turn the tides against San Jose. The Ducks went on to dominate the ensuing 4v4 play, generate a pair of chances on the man advantage, and get their legs under them after being outplayed early on. They would take that into the second period, where San Jose had issues generating much of anything, and continue to wear down the Sharks until late in the third when San Jose got some life and began to string some effective shifts together.

By that time it was too little too late however, and the Jonas Hiller show that the Sharks have become familiar with over the last four seasons was in perfect form. Hiller made 31 saves in his first home game since February 2nd, including a pair of robberies against Joe Pavelski and a nifty cross crease save against Ryane Clowe. Dan Boyle would hit a post late as well, but the Sharks didn't manage to convert in a four minute span at the end of the game where they finally looked to have some life.

Rookie centerman Maxime Macanauer would score the game's only goal of the night, receiving a pass from George Parros from behind the net and taking advantage of some busted defensive coverage from the Sharks third pairing and fourth forward line. The Ducks bottom six forwards were giving the Sharks fits all night, utilizing their speed to stretch San Jose's defense and get into the forecheck quickly and aggressively.

Thomas Greiss was excellent in the loss, only giving up one marker despite facing 23 shots and being subjected to what looked like well over double digits in the scoring chance category. Greiss was the only reason San Jose was able to hang on for as long as they did in the second period, as the Ducks top line of Ryan-Getzlaf-Perry continued to be deadly on the low cycle and put together some dangerous scoring chances.

Against the Blues, San Jose will have to clean up just about every aspect of their game. Sharks Head Coach McLellan indicated on  Friday that Vandermeer will be likely for a starting spot on Saturday. The logical defenseman to replace would be Colin White considering they are both good fits for a bottom pairing role with Jason Demers; expect that decision to be made somewhat regardless of who fits where; White ha a poor game last night for the Sharks, something that Vandermeer will be able to take advantage of when trying to catch the eye of Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan.

There isn't not much San Jose can do on a purely individual effort tonight in order to improve on their outing against Anaheim-- the forecheck as a whole was middling, the passing through the neutral zone frustrating, and movement in the offensive zone didn't have much (if any) precision to it either. These weren't maladies that effected single lines or individual players-- for the most part they were team-wide issues and breakdowns that spanned across the roster. Outside of Greiss, Pavelski, and Desjardins (who drew two penalties), it was a sluggish and slow evening for the entire team.

The biggest key tonight? Get their legs going early on. A back to back after six game days off will not be as difficult as a game later in the season, so using that energy from the home crowd early is going to be important for San Jose. Whether you want to hang it on the six-day layoff or the inevitable off-night that every NHL team experiences at numerous points during the season, turning in an effort like the one from last night is bound to result in another one in the loss column for a Sharks team trying to get out to the strongest start possible.

Prediction: Sharks win 5-3. Goals by Pavelski (x2), Burns, Clowe, and Mitchell.

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