Sharks vs. Blues: Schedule-maker provides golden opportunity

Dilip Vishwanat

After losing four of their last five games, the Sharks will finally benefit from some good fortune as they face a Blues team that played last night in Ottawa and could be without David Backes.

While the Sharks have had two days off since losing in Nashville Saturday night and practiced in St. Louis yesterday, the Blues dropped an overtime decision in Ottawa last night, flew back into Missouri immediately afterward and are set to face San Jose this evening likely without the services of their captain David Backes, who was concussed against the Senators. If a scheduled loss exists, this is one of them for the Blues but the Sharks still need to make sure they capitalize on a club that's one of the best in the league when they aren't weary and banged-up.

These teams have met twice so far this season and the Sharks have blown the doors off the Blues both times. Their previous matchup in St. Louis on October 15th was overshadowed by Maxim Lapierre boarding Dan Boyle but it was a 6-2 rout in favor of San Jose that featured the Sharks playing some of their best hockey of the season, outshooting the Blues 39-27 and holding a 5-0 lead at one point. The last meeting between these clubs was at the Tank on Black Friday when Brent Burns scored a hat trick as the Sharks held on for a 6-4 win after taking a 4-0 lead in the first period.

Burns went cold shortly after that game and has zero goals and just one assist in the eight games since putting up a Wookie Trick on St. Louis. His shot rate has also dipped below three per game over that span and the Sharks need their top offensive line to come through for them with signature performances more frequently than they have over the past two weeks. That's especially the case as early indications are that Matt Nieto and Tyler Kennedy will be scratched tonight as the larger Mike Brown and John McCarthy draw in. The Blues are sort of the Bruins West in that they're a great team that additionally benefits from the weird mythos surrounding them that goads opposing coaches into dressing tough guys who can't play in favor of skill guys who can. If the lines at morning skate are the ones the Sharks go with this evening, this certainly isn't their optimal forward lineup but, thanks to the schedule-maker, they'll still have a chance at notching a big win that perhaps shakes them out of their current slump for good.

San Jose Sharks

@

St. Louis Blues
20-7-6, 46 points
22-6-4, 48 points
3rd in Pacific
2nd in Central

5PM PST | Scottrade Center | St. Louis, Missouri
TV: CSNCA-HD | Radio: SJSharks.com, 98.5 KFOX
Know Your Enemy: St. Louis Game Time

Projected Sharks Lineup

Tomas Hertl - Joe Thornton - Brent Burns
Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Tommy Wingels
James Sheppard - Joe Pavelski - Marty Havlat
John McCarthy - Andrew Desjardins - Mike Brown

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Justin Braun
Matt Irwin - Dan Boyle
Brad Stuart - Jason Demers

Antti Niemi
Alex Stalock

Projected Blues Lineup

Brenden Morrow - Alexander Steen - T.J. Oshie
Jaden Schwartz - Derek Roy - Chris Stewart
Magnus Paajarvi - Patrik Berglund - Vladimir Tarasenko
Chris Porter - Maxim Lapierre - Adam Cracknell

Barret Jackman - Alex Pietrangelo
Jay Bouwmeester - Roman Polak
Carlo Colaiacovo - Kevin Shattenkirk

Jaroslav Halak
Brian Elliott

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