The Sharks lost back-to-back games against teams that will almost certainly not make the playoffs this season and now face one of the best squads in the NHL, a team they have lost twice in a row to. Pittsburgh isn’t the ideal team to play when you’re looking to snap a losing streak, but a win would return the good vibes this team was running on after sweeping its last homestand.
Pittsburgh already holds three of four points on its California road trip after beating the Ducks handily and then losing to the Kings in overtime. This road trip isn’t quite as fearsome as it was a few years ago, but that should give you an idea of how Pittsburgh is playing now that it has Sidney Crosby back in the lineup.
When these teams last met a couple weeks ago San Jose played well for two periods before falling apart in the third — and that was against a Penguins team that did not have Crosby nor Kris Letang. So this test is tougher. Martin Jones will almost certainly start again, meaning we’ll have still only seen Aaron Dell once this season.
Speaking of rest: Matt Nieto has gotten a whole lot of it recently while Micheal Haley has drawn into the lineup. With the Sharks riding a two-game losing streak, now seems like a pretty good time to optimize the lineup — particularly against the highly skilled team that should have taught the Sharks this lesson in the Stanley Cup Final.
We’ll see what head coach Peter DeBoer decides to do. The Sharks have generated plenty of scoring chances but haven’t converted them while the defense has been a bit sloppy to start the season. That’s not really a cause for concern (I think both areas will be righted in time) but if that’s what forces DeBoer to play an optimal lineup, I won’t complain.
For god only knows what reason this game isn’t on NBC Sports, so you’ll have to go about watching this one in the usual ways. You can catch it on CSN California if you’re a Bay Area Native with a cable subscription or by using NHL.TV. Or hey, if you have the money, you can go to the Shark Tank or a bar. That sounds fun.
|Saturday, Nov. 5, 7:30 p.m. PT|
|SAP Center, San Jose, California, USA|
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|Stats and Figures|
|2nd in Pacific||Standings||T-1st in Metropolitan|
|54.16%||Even Strength, Score-Adj. Fenwick||50.81%|