SAN JOSE — Martin Jones will start his seventh straight game, while Micheal Haley will play in his fifth straight game as the Sharks won’t make any lineup changes ahead of tonight’s matchup against the Calgary Flames, head coach Pete DeBoer said. The Sharks lineup looked like this against Arizona on Tuesday night:
Mikkel Boedker-Joe Thornton-Joe Pavelski
Joonas Donskoi-Logan Couture-Joel Ward
Patrick Marleau-Tomas Hertl-Melker Karlsson
Micheal Haley-Chris Tierney-Tommy Wingels
Marc-Edouard Vlasic-Justin Braun
Paul Martin-Brent Burns
Brenden Dillon-David Schlemko
Dylan DeMelo and Matt Nieto will be scratched again tonight. DeMelo has yet to dress in a game this season, while Nieto is scratched for the fifth consecutive game. Aaron Dell will once again back up Martin Jones, and has not started in net since picking up his first NHL win against the New York Islanders just over two weeks ago. DeBoer said previously that Dell will have opportunities to start on the Sharks’ upcoming road trip, and as the team plays more back-to-backs during the condensed schedule.
Calgary’s forward lines remain unchanged from their last game against Chicago on Tuesday, but they will rearrange their defense pairings and start a different goaltender, as Chad Johnson will start tonight according to PostMedia’s Kristen Odland. Based on Odland’s report and what Calgary’s group looked like on Tuesday, expect the Flames to ice the following lineup:
Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - Alex Chiasson
Matthew Tkachuk - Mikael Backlund - Michael Frolik
Kris Versteeg - Sam Bennett - Troy Brouwer
Micheal Ferland - Matt Stajan - Lance Bouma
Troy Brodie-Mark Giordano
Jyrri Jokipakka-Dougie Hamilton
Brett Kulak-Deryk Engelland
Former Shark Freddie Hamilton will not play tonight, based on these lines. Matthew Tkachuk, who the Flames selected in the first round at this June’s NHL Draft, will play in his 10th game, meaning that Calgary will now burn a year off of his entry-level contract regardless of whether or not they send him back to the CHL.
As CBC’s Elliotte Friedman noted this week in his 30 Thoughts column, rookies that spend 40 games on the NHL roster become one year closer to unrestricted free agency. After tonight, Tkachuk needs 27 games to reach that milestone, and “clubs care much more about than the first contract,” according to Friedman, and GMs and agents “(privately) agree that a full third year in the NHL makes a financial difference.” Something to keep an eye on if, say, Timo Meier, Nikolay Goldobin, or Kevin Labanc makes the Sharks’ roster for more than 40 games this season.
Sharks struggling to score, but getting “quality looks”
Despite a loss in Arizona on Tuesday, Pete DeBoer said he was happy with how the Sharks played against the Coyotes, and that the Sharks “probably deserved to win that game.”
“Guys can’t try harder to score goals,” DeBoer said. “We’ve gotten quality looks. I think we’re at the net. You have to give some credit to the other team. I thought [Arizona goaltender Louis Domingue] the other night was first star, and you’re going to get some of those nights. We’ve just got to stick with it.”
The Sharks sit third in score-adjusted Corsi (55.4%), second in score-adjusted Fenwick (55.2%), and second in scoring chances for percentage (58.43%), according to Puck on Net and Corsica Hockey. Yet, they sit 22nd in even strength goals for per 60 minutes, and 24th in shooting percentage.
Playing against Calgary tonight could alleviate some of the Sharks’ scoring woes. The Flames are 20th in even strength goals against per 60 minutes, and have the third-lowest save percentage in the league. Johnson, along with Elliott, have struggled to start the season. Both have stopped a lower percentage of shots at even strength than they did last year. Elliott and Johnson ranked fifth and 30th, respectively, out of 52 goalies that played at least 1000 minutes last season in even strength save percentage.
“We’re going to assume, whether it’s Elliott or not, that they’re going to get very good goaltending and we have to be ready for that,” DeBoer said before the Flames had finished their morning skate.
Quote of the Day
Tonight, the Flames’ defense will include three players with four or more points this season (Dougie Hamilton, Mark Giordano, and Jyrri Jokipakka. Another, Dennis Wideman, will likely not be in the lineup. Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer said the Flames’ blueline is reminiscent of the Sharks’:
A lot of their offense starts on their back end. Both on the rush and in offensive zone. They remind me of us a little in the offensive zone. They pour a ton of shots to the net, and really use their defensemen and then kind of recover the rebounds look for opportunities off that. That’s a big strength of their team, something we’ve got to be aware of.