[Editor's note: Welcome Becca as Fear the Fin's newest writer!]
The Vancouver Canucks will roll into town Tuesday night to face off against the San Jose Sharks for the last time this preseason. In their previous meeting with Canucks in Vancouver, the Sharks played a strong 60-minutes. Playing just outside his hometown of North Vancouver, Martin Jones made his first appearance between the pipes in teal, stifling the Canucks’ offense in a 4-0 shut out victory.
Jones made the start Saturday night against the visiting Anaheim Ducks and despite the loss, made 19-saves in what was indisputably a solid start. With the Sharks sending goaltenders Troy Grosenick and Aaron Dell to the Barracudas, it appears that Alex Stalock will retain his role as the San Jose backup goalie.
As the preseason winds down, an increasingly clearer picture of who will be taking the ice on opening night has begun to form. A handful of Sharks who made an appearance in their last meeting with Vancouver have since been designated to training camp with the S.J. Barracudas. This group includes forward Michael Haley and defenseman Karl Stollery, who were part of the most recent batch of training camp attendees to be assigned to the Barracudas. The Sharks have narrowed down their final roster to 27.
Sharks newcomers Joonas Donskoi (who spent last season with the Finnish Liiga team, Karpat), Nikolay Goldobin (who was the Sharks’ First Round pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Level Draft and spent last season with HIFK Helskini) and Dylan DeMelo (who spent last season in Worcester and was called up to for a brief stint with the Sharks) remain on the roster for the matchup against the Canucks.
The forwards have each impressed the San Jose coaching staff in training camp, and will likely have another precious opportunity to strengthen their cases while playing against Vancouver. San Jose head coach, Peter DeBoer, hinted to Sharks’ CSN Bay Area insider Kevin Kurz that of the three, Goldobin might be next in line to join the AHL Barracudas.
While veteran blueliners Justin Braun and Marc-Edouard Vlasic most likely have their names inked into the opening night roster, rookie defensemen Dylan DeMelo, Matt Tennyson and Mirco Mueller will continue to contend for the last two spots on the Sharks’ defense.
Fans anticipating the opening night line combinations should pay special attention the contest against the Canucks. The final pieces of the puzzle regarding the Sharks lines are finally coming together. Tomas Hertl has centered in both practice and prior preseason games, and if he appears once again as the third-line center against Vancouver, the likelihood he will be in that spot come October 7th increases considerably.
DeBoer has also made the potentially revealing choice to let Joonas Donskoi play on a line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski. Donskoi, who had two shots against Vancouver the last time the Sharks faced the Canucks, has outperformed expectations during the preseason. While his place alongside Thornton and Pavelski may only be temporary, his gameplay against the Canucks and his presence in the lineup may bode well for the future of the Finn.
The Canucks, for their part, have their own stuff to figure out coming into Tuesday night’s preseason meet-up. Vancouver is continuing to navigate around a more veteran staff, especially in comparison to the young talent in San Jose that has become so vital to the Sharks’ plan moving forward.
The Sharks are not done making changes to their roster. DeBoer and the rest of the coaching staff’s choices against the Canucks, especially on the blue line and on the third and fourth lines, could hint at what they have planned for the quickly-approaching regular season.
Tale Of The Tape
|2nd in Pacific||Last season's Rank||5th in Pacific
||Last season's Score-Adj. Fenwick||
||Last season's PDO||99.3|
|19.3||Last season's PP%||21.6|
|85.7||Last season's PK%||78.5|
Projected Sharks Lineup
Joe Pavelski - Joe Thornton - Nikolay Goldobin
Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Joel Ward
Tommy Wingels - Tomas Hertl - Matt Nieto
Mike Brown - Chris Tierney - Raffi Torres
Marc Edouard Vlasic- Justin Braun
Brent Burns - Paul Martin
Brenden Dillon - Mirco Mueller
Projected Canucks Lineup
(To be updated)
The Sharks comfortably downed the Canucks for their first win of the preseason.