A fresh face enters the Sharks lineup tonight while an older one will sit for the first time this season. Timo Meier will make his NHL debut tonight against the Montreal Canadiens, as Joel Ward is a healthy scratch, San Jose Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer told reporters this morning,
“We’re 30 games in,” DeBoer said this morning, per CSN Bay Area. “We were good last year. We had a great season, but we weren’t good enough. It’s clear the mandate here is to take another step this year.”
Through 30 games, Ward has scored just two goals and nine points, both on pace for the lowest marks in a full season of his career. He’s struggled to score, but has arguably been more unlucky than anything. His 4.8% shooting percentage and 99.0 PDO are the lowest and second lowest marks of his career, according to Hockey Reference.
His shot generation (5.33 individual shots for/60 minutes) is at the lowest rate of his career, but his scoring chance (3.20 scoring chances for/60) and expected goals (0.75 xG/60) rates are the second and third highest of Ward’s career, according to Corsica.
It’s the second straight game that DeBoer has scratched a key contributor. Joonas Donskoi was scratched for the second night of a back-to-back in Ottawa on Wednesday. Donskoi also has only scored two goals so far this season.
After leaving the game in Ottawa thanks to Mike Hoffman’s cross-check to his head, Logan Couture will skate in the lineup tonight and center the second line, according to the San Jose Mercury News’ Curtis Pashelka.
Patrick Marleau-Joe Thornton-Joe Pavelski
Mikkel Boedker-Logan Couture-Kevin Labanc
Timo Meier-Chris Tierney-Joonas Donskoi
Micheal Haley-Tommy Wingels-Melker Karlsson
Paul Martin-Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic-Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon-David Schlemko
Michael McCarron is expected to make his season debut for Montreal, according to SportsNet’s Canadiens beat reporter Eric Engels. He’s the 10th-best player under 25 in the Canadiens system coming into last season, according to rankings from our friends over at Habs Eyes on the Prize.
Here are Montreal’s expected lines for tonight, courtesy of FOTB Kevin Kurz:
Max Pacioretty–Tomas Plekanec-Alexander Radulov
Artturi Lehkonen–Phillip Danault–Andrew Shaw
Paul Byron–Torrey Mitchell–Brendan Gallagher
Daniel Carr-Brian Fynn-Michael McCarron
Alexei Emelin–Shea Weber
Andrei Markov-Jeff Petry
Nathan Beaulieu–Zach Redmond