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Sharks vs. Blue Jackets preview: Apparently there are hockey games in San Jose sometimes

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After a lengthy road trip, the Sharks return home for only their second game at SAP Center this season.

Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

With their first major road trip of the early season complete, the Sharks return home for a quick two-game sojourn before heading back out onto the road for another extended trip on Sunday. They'll face the Columbus Blue Jackets who, after flying in two days ago, have spent about as much time in San Jose as the Sharks have since the start of the regular season. The Jackets are riddled with key injuries from top-six forwards Brandon Dubinsky, Nathan Horton and Boone Jenner to young top-four defenseman Ryan Murray. They've still had some success early on, integrating offseason acquisition Scott Hartnell and highly-regarded forward prospect Alexander Wennberg into the lineup while posting a 3-2 record alongside top-ten puck possession numbers in the process.

The lone surprise in the Sharks' lineup, apart from the fact that the coaching staff continues to believe the best way to get Tomas Hertl out of his early-season slump is to play him with James Sheppard and Eriah Hayes, is that Antti Niemi will get the start in goal. This marks the first time this season a goalie has appeared in consecutive games for the Sharks. I don't think it's a signal that the coaching staff has declared Niemi the outright winner of the competition for starting netminder, likely just a product of wanting Niemi to face the Ducks in Anaheim for a big game on Sunday and not wanting Alex Stalock to play both tonight and Saturday afternoon in the process. Regardless, if Niemi can put up a sterling performance (and with the way the Sharks have bled shots against so far this season, he'll probably have to for San Jose to win) that likely positions him well to grab the starting role.

Columbus Blue Jackets

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San Jose Sharks
3-2-0, 6 points
4-2-1, 9 points
6th in Metropolitan
3rd in Pacific

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

Projected Sharks Lineup

Matt Nieto - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski
Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Tommy Wingels
Tomas Hertl - James Sheppard - Eriah Hayes
Tye McGinn - Andrew Desjardins - Adam Burish

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Justin Braun
Matt Irwin - Brent Burns
Scott Hannan - Jason Demers

Antti Niemi
Alex Stalock

Projected Blue Jackets Lineup

Scott Hartnell - Ryan Johansen - Nick Foligno
Matt Calvert - Alexander Wennberg - Cam Atkinson
Mark Letestu - Artem Anisimov - Jack Skille
Adam Cracknell - Michael Chaput - Jared Boll

Tim Erixon - James Wisniewski
Jack Johnson - David Savard
Fedor Tyutin - Dalton Prout

Sergei Bobrovsky
Curtis McElhinney