Sharks vs. Blackhawks: Conference heavyweights meet in San Jose

Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Two of the best teams in the West look to shake out of their respective slumps tonight at the Tank.

If the Sharks hope to play in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history this spring, they'll almost certainly have to defeat the Blackhawks in the Western Conference Final to get there. Sure, the NHL postseason is notoriously unpredictable and there's no question the St. Louis Blues have a reasonable chance of making it out of the Central Division. But the Hawks are the defending champs and nothing that has transpired this season suggests they're any weaker now than when they won Game 6 against Boston in June.

Tonight's meeting between the two teams is the last one scheduled prior to a potential playoff matchup three months from now. San Jose was blown out at the United Center in mid-November then turned in one of the gutsiest performances we've seen from them this season when they pulled out a shootout win against the Blackhawks on January 5th, beating the league's best team on the road on the second half of a back-to-back with their backup goaltender in net and five top-nine forwards out of the lineup.

While ex-Hawk Marty Havlat, one of those top-nine forwards missing the last time these teams played, is set to skate in his third straight game after missing more than a month due to a lower-body injury, Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl, Tyler Kennedy and Raffi Torres remain out tonight, which sort of robs us of a true preview of how these heavyweights stack up against each other. It's still an opportunity for the Sharks to prove they can beat the Blackhawks in regulation, a feat they haven't accomplished in so long Jamie McGinn and Benn Ferriero scored for San Jose the last time they pulled it off.

Chicago Blackhawks

@

San Jose Sharks
33-10-13, 79 points
34-15-6, 74 points
1st in Central Division 2nd in Pacific Division

7:30 PM PST | HP Pavilion | San Jose, California
TV:
CSNCA-HD | Radio: 98.5 KFOX, SJSharks.com
Know Your Enemy: Second City Hockey, The Committed Indian, Cheer The Anthem

Projected Sharks Lineup

Matt Nieto - Joe Thornton - Brent Burns
Patrick Marleau - Joe Pavelski - Tommy Wingels
James Sheppard - Andrew Desjardins - Mike Brown
Marty Havlat - Bracken Kearns - Eriah Hayes

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

Antti Niemi
Alex Stalock

Projected Blackhawks Lineup

Patrick Sharp - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa
Kris Versteeg - Brandon Pirri - Patrick Kane
Brandon Saad - Michal Handzus - Andrew Shaw
Brandon Bollig - Marcus Kruger - Ben Smith

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook
Johnny Oduya - Niklas Hjalmarsson
Nick Leddy - Michal Rozsival

Corey Crawford
Antti Raanta

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Fear The Fin

You must be a member of Fear The Fin to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Fear The Fin. You should read them.

Join Fear The Fin

You must be a member of Fear The Fin to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Fear The Fin. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9355_tracker