Sharks vs. Penguins: Let's try that again

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

After a sobering defeat to the Penguins in December, the Sharks will have a chance to even the season series up tonight.

The Sharks' loss to the Penguins in early December was a lot closer than it felt. Even before the Penguins ripped open a four goal lead in the second period the game was close. Pittsburgh was the better team, but the Sharks were in the game more than it appeared at first look.

Fenwick_chart_for_2013-12-05_sharks_1_at_penguins_5_medium

San Jose really poured it on in the third period, but the Penguins scored the lone goal in the final frame. Antti Niemi got the hook after the second period, he faced 27 shots and stopped 23. Alex Stalock didn't fair a whole lot better as he allowed a goal on one of just three shots he saw. It wasn't a red-letter day for the Sharks goaltending, nor their offense, for that matter.

The Sharks took 45 shots on goal and only scored once against Marc-Andre Fleury. These Results Are Not Typical.

Last time these teams met it was without Raffi Torres for the Sharks and Evgeni Malkin for the Penguins. Yeah, that probably had more impact on Pittsburgh than it did on the Sharks.

Since these teams met in early Decemer, the Penguins have seen their Fenwick numbers slide precipitously. They went from an impressive 54.9 on December 5 to a merely average 51.1 today. That puts them 11th in Fenwick, and their Corsi rate of 49 percent lands them smack dab in the middle of the pack.

Pittsburgh_penguins_2013-2014_cumulative_5v5_close_ff__medium

Pittsburgh added Marcel Goc at the tail end of the trade deadline, and I expect he'll find a spot in their bottom six tonight. The Sharks did nothing to shore up their defense concerns before the trade window shut, so if this is to be the year for the Sharks, they'll be doing it with the group we've seen the past 60+ games. There are worse things in the world.

After a discouraging performance against the Carolina Hurricanes, San Jose has a tough task in rebounding against a darn dangerous team. The good news is their schedule gets even softer after the Penguins game, with the Canadiens and Maple Leafs coming to town over the weekend.

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San Jose Sharks
41-16-4, 86 points 39-17-7, 85 points
1st in Metropolitan
2nd in Pacific

7:30PM PST | SAP Center | San Jose, California
TV: CSNCA-HD | Radio: SJSharks.com, 98.5 KFOX
Know Your Enemy: Pensburgh

Projected Sharks Lineup

Brent Burns - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski
Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Matt Nieto
Raffi Torres - James Sheppard - Tommy Wingels
Marty Havlat - Andrew Desjardins - Adam Burish

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Jason Demers
Matt Irwin - Justin Braun
Scott Hannan - Dan Boyle

Antti Niemi
Alex Stalock

Projected Penguins Lineup

Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Brian Gibbons
Jussi Jokinen - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Taylor Pyatt - Brandon Sutter - Joe Vitale
Tanner Glass - Craig Adams - Chuck Kobasew

Rob Scuderi - Matt Niskanen
Olli Maatta - Brooks Orpik
Robert Bortuzzo - Simon Despres

Jeff Zatkoff
Marc-Andre Fleury

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