will be in net tonight for the San Jose Sharks while gets the go for the Minnesota Wild. As we mentioned in our game preview, both Backstrom and Harding have struggled over the last month to the tune of a combined .909 SV%. With the Sharks currently on a 8-1-1 roll in their last ten games it sets up what seems to be a fortuitous situation for the good guys at face value.
Having said that, we've seen the Sharks serve the slump buster role for opposing goaltenders too many times to be completely confident in this one. San Jose will have their scoring chances tonight against the worst team in the League at giving up shots (31.9 shots against per game). It's just a matter of converting on those chances by executing in the neutral zone and carrying the puck into the zone to generate chances. The Wild have received a lot of goals this season by forcing teams into being over aggressive, so taking care of the turnover differential is going to be another key.
In other news,returned to the lineup last week after missing almost all of December with a knee injury. He's seen time on the top line with and since returning-- look for Todd McLellan to go power vs. power as he is wont to do, with the Thornton line and Boyle-Vlasic pairing seeing the majority of their ice time against Minnesota's top line unless Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo can get creative with his line changes.
Some more tidbits and morsels to feed your hungry hearts before this one gets underway early in the day:
- David Pollak of Working The Corners tells the story of how four members of the San Jose Sharks visited Jack Jablonski as soon as they checked into their hotel last night. Great stuff to see from the hockey community at large.
Pierre Marc-Bouchard is out with a concussion after being elbowed in a game against Vancouver last week. The centerman has had issues with concussions in his career, but this one is being reported as less severe compared to his previous injuries.
- Kevin Kurz breaks down to what to watch for tonight-- the beginning of a long road trip, the fatigue of playing a lot of games in a short stretch, and an unchanged lineup are the highlights.
Puck drops at 4:37 PM on the NBC Sports Network (formerly Versus).