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Sharks vs. Jets preview: Trip begins with biggest game of season

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Season-defining seven game road trip opens in the 'Peg.

Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

The Sharks will end the 2014-15 regular season where they began it: on the road. After enjoying, and largely failing to take advantage of, a Bay Area-heavy schedule from late November through mid-March, they'll now play 10 of their remaining 13 games away from the Tank, starting with a seven-game road trip that begins with the most important game of the season tonight in Winnipeg. Win and the Sharks draw within two points of the Jets who themselves currently sit one point out of the Western Conference's final Wild Card spot. Lose in regulation and the Sharks will fall six points back of Winnipeg and see their playoff hopes all but depleted.

Tale Of The Tape
San Jose Sharks

@

Winnipeg Jets
34-27-8, 76 points
Record 34-23-12, 80 points
5th in Pacific Rank 5th in Central
50.4%
Score-Adj. Fenwick 52.8%
99.3
PDO 99.8
22.0
PP% 18.0
79.5
PK% 81.0

5PM PST | MTS Centre | Winnipeg, Manitoba
TV: CSNCA-HD | Radio: SJSharks.com, 98.5 KFOX
Know Your Enemy: Arctic Ice Hockey

Projected Sharks Lineup

Joe Pavelski - Joe Thornton - Melker Karlsson
Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Matt Nieto
Tomas Hertl - Chris Tierney - Tommy Wingels
John Scott - Ben Smith - Barclay Goodrow

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Justin Braun
Matt Irwin - Brent Burns
Scott Hannan - Brenden Dillon

Antti Niemi
Alex Stalock

Projected Jets Lineup

Andrew Ladd - Adam Lowry - Michael Frolik
Drew Stafford - Mark Scheifele - Blake Wheeler
Jiri Tlusty - Jim Slater - Lee Stempniak
Chris Thorburn - Eric O'Dell - Matt Halischuk

Tobias Enstrom - Tyler Myers
Mark Stuart - Jacob Trouba
Adam Pardy - Jay Harrison

Ondrej Pavelec
Michael Hutchinson

Last Meeting

Marc-Edouard Vlasic scored with five seconds remaining in regulation to give the Sharks a 3-2 win over the Jets in Winnipeg in early January. Remember that game if the Wild Card race is decided by a point.

Storylines

  • Winnipeg's center depth has been decimated by injuries to its two best pivots in Bryan Little and Mathieu Perreault, top defenseman Dustin Byfuglien will be a game time decision after having not played since March 4th with an upper-body ailment, and one of the worst goalies in the NHL in Ondrej Pavelec will start in net. This is the kind of game that should be a slam-dunk victory for the Sharks. And yet, it never is.
  • In the most predictable lineup move ever, Mirco Mueller will be scratched for his fluky mistake on Saturday, sending a great message to the 19-year-old rookie in what's ostensibly a transitional, development-focused year for the Sharks. Taking his place will be demonstrably shittier defenseman Scott Hannan.
  • San Jose's playoff odds could land anywhere between 5.1% and 24.8% depending on tonight's results.