Tommy Wingels returns for the Sharks tonight against the Blues. - Thearon W. Henderson
The inconsistent and injured St. Louis Blues face the consistent(ly bad) and injured Sharks offense at 1 pm from HP Pavilion.
When we last saw the Blues, they were heading back to their dressing room disappointed after losing 2-1 to Tim Kennedy and the Sharks on February 19th. The Blues faced some serious travel issues before that game, and San Jose took advantage of the situation. The Sharks broke their 7-game skid with that win.
Since then, both teams have gone 3-3-1 and are tied with 26 points. While these teams have been playing similar in the win-loss column, scoring totals tell a different story. The Blues had a scoring outage of their own recently, but have 10 goals in their last two games. The problem, surprisingly, has been defense and goaltending.
On the other side, San Jose has 10 regulation goals since the last time these two met. Antti Niemi will need to put up a spectacular effort to give the Sharks a chance. I don't doubt he can. But the big key is that the San Jose offense will need to attack a slightly banged up Blues team.
|12-9-2, 26 points
||11-7-4, 26 points|
|8th in Western Conference||6th in Western Conference|
The Sharks will get some reinforcements with Tommy Wingels returning to the lineup. According to Kevin Kurz, we're likely to see him start out with Thornton and Couture. Maybe those linemates can help Wingels play more like his outstanding 2011-2012 version instead of his currently underwhelming 2013 form. In other roster news, San Francisco Bulls goaltender Thomas Heemskerk will likely be the back-up netminder for the Sharks, barring any last-minute Worcester shuttling.
Projected Sharks Lineup
Projected Blues Lineup
If you're wondering why that lineup isn't nearly as terrifying as it could be, it's because the Blues are facing injury problems as bad as the Sharks. St. Louis will likely be without the trio of Vladimir Tarasenko, Alexander Steen and Andy McDonald. Basically, they're missing what could arguably be their top line. In fact, among Blues forwards who have played more than ten games, they rank first, second and fifth, respectively, in relative corsi.
At this point, San Jose could use points any way they can get them. Hopefully the Sharks can take advantage of another unfortunate situation the Blues are in. Maybe they'll even score more than two goals in regulation for the first time in 41 days.
Prediction: Sharks win 8-6. Hahaha. Just kidding. Sharks win 2-1 in a shootout. Sheppard with the only goal in regulation. Meanwhile, Douglas Murray continues to blackmail Todd McLellan for playing time by holding his pet goldfish, Nemo, hostage. Go Sharks.