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Morning Skate Notes & Quotes: Wingels “very close” to return, game-time decision tonight

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The forward could play for the first time in a week.

NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at San Jose Sharks Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

SAN JOSE — Tommy Wingels participated in the morning skate and is “very close” to a return, according to head coach Pete DeBoer. The two will talk before they decide whether or not he will play tonight against the Montreal Canadiens, DeBoer said.

Wingels has not played since he left the game in San Jose’s 3-2 win over the New York Islanders a week ago. He rotated on fourth line rushes with Micheal Haley, Melker Karlsson, and rookie Ryan Caprenter, who scored his first career NHL goal in the Sharks’ 4-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday.

DeBoer expects low-scoring game with East’s best

Martin Jones has rebounded from a slow start this season, and in the opposite crease, the Sharks will face their most difficult goaltending test of the season: Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price.

Price is simply one of, if not the best goaltender on the planet. Among goalies who have played 500 minutes this season, Prices is second in even strength save percentage (.9573), and is first in that category among goalies that have played 2000 minutes since the start of the 2013-14 season.

“We have to prepared to win 2-1 here tonight,” DeBoer said. “That’s got to be the mindset and if we can get more than that, we’ll take it.”

Montreal’s been a middling possession team this season (16th in score and venue-adjusted CF% and FF%), but have risen to the top of the Eastern Conference thanks to Price’s goaltending and an opportunistic offense. The Canadiens are seventh in expected goals per 60 minutes (xGF/60) and scoring chances for per 60 minutes (SCF/60), according to Corsica. That formula has made Montreal dangerous, according to DeBoer.

“There’s a reason for that and it starts in net,” DeBoer said. “They’ve got a ton of speed up front. I think they’ve got an underrated [defense] corps, good special teams. It’s a great challenge for us.”

Jones starts, top 9 is unchanged

Martin Jones was the first goaltender off of the ice, and will start tonight. Although the fourth line could change, depending on whether Wingels enters into the lineup, the top three lines did not change from the beginning of the Sharks’ game against Los Angeles. Based on line rushes this morning, the Sharks’ deployment will look like this:

Patrick Marleau-Joe Thornton-Joe Pavelski

Kevin Labanc-Logan Couture-Joel Ward

Mikkel Boedker-Chris Tierney-Joonas Donskoi

Melker Karlsson-Ryan Carpenter-Tommy Wingels OR Micheal Haley

Paul Martin-Brent Burns

Marc-Edouard Vlasic-Justin Braun

Brenden Dillon-David Schlemko

Martin Jones

Aaron Dell

Scratches: Dylan DeMelo, Matt Nieto, and Micheal Haley OR Tommy Wingels

Quote of the Day

Towards the end of the morning skate, Dylan DeMelo and Mikkel Boedker collided awkwardly, but both got up no worse for wear. DeBoer was asked if he was momentarily concerned, and offered a witty response.

“Yeah. (laughs) [Dylan’s] looking to get in the lineup any way he can. He didn’t realize that was a forward. He probably should have concentrated on running a couple of the defensemen! Give himself a chance.