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Sharks vs. Bruins: Injuries dampen marquee matchup

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Boston's Loui Eriksson and the Sharks' Brent Burns and Dan Boyle won't play but there's still plenty to look forward to as two of the league's top teams meet.

Elsa

What should have been one of the most anticipated games of the young season undoubtedly has a pall cast over it in the aftermath of last night's headshot on Bruins star Loui Eriksson by noted piece of human excrement John Scott. One of the Sharks' best players, Dan Boyle, remains on the shelf after falling victim to a cheap shot of his own, courtesy Maxim Lapierre last week in St. Louis.  Don't you just love the NHL sometimes? In addition, San Jose will be without Brent Burns for the second game in a row. So both teams are missing some key components of their lineup but storylines still abound in this matchup of two preseason Cup favorites who have both gotten off to terrific starts.

For starters, there's the Hamilton Bowl: Sharks rookie Freddie Hamilton and his brother Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton, former teammates with the OHL's Niagara IceDogs, will face each other in NHL action for the first time in what's only Freddie's second game ever in the big leagues. Former star winger for the Boston University Terriers, Matt Nieto, returns to Boston for the first time as an NHLer. And, of course, it's always a story when Joe Thornton comes back to the city where he began his Hall Of Fame career. This time, he'll bring with him one of the players he was traded from Boston to San Jose for in defenseman Brad Stuart.

But the most pertinent storyline is that, injuries be damned, these have been two of the very best teams in the NHL three weeks into the 2013-14 season. Going into this afternoon's matchup, Boston and San Jose, respectively, rank 3rd and 4th in the league in 5v5 score-close shot differential, 1st and 2nd in 5v5 goal differential and 3rd and 1st in overall goal differential. Both teams boast enviable depth down the middle, a somewhat-anonymous but extremely effective defense corps and fantastic Finnish goaltending. Each club has seen its winger depth compromised by injury and the Sharks are still without their top offensive blueliner but this is still shaping up to be a hell of a showdown in Beantown.

San Jose Sharks

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Boston Bruins
8-0-1, 17 points
6-2-0, 12 points
1st in Pacific
3rd in Atlantic

4PM PST | TD Garden | Boston, Massachusetts
TV: CSNCA-HD, NHL Network | Radio: SJSharks.com, 98.5 KFOX
Know Your Enemy: Stanley Cup of Chowder, Days of Y'Orr

Projected Sharks Lineup

Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Tyler Kennedy
Tomas Hertl - Joe Thornton - Freddie Hamilton
Matt Nieto - Joe Pavelski - Tommy Wingels
James Sheppard - Andrew Desjardins - Mike Brown

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Justin Braun
Matt Irwin - Brad Stuart
Scott Hannan - Jason Demers

Antti Niemi
Alex Stalock

Projected Bruins Lineup

Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Jarome Iginla
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Reilly Smith
Carl Soderberg - Chris Kelly - Jordan Caron
Daniel Paille - Gregory Campbell - Shawn Thornton

Zdeno Chara - Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg - Dougie Hamilton
Torey Krug - Adam McQuaid

Tuukka Rask
Chad Johnson