Marc-Edouard Vlasic returned to the Sharks’ lineup last night, but don’t celebrate too quickly. The Canadian defender remains a game-time decision against the Calgary Flames as the Sharks wrap up a quick road trip with an Albertan back-to-back at 6:30 p.m. PT.
Vlasic showed no timidity against the Oilers, taking a pair of shots on goal and blocking seven while notching a pair of assists. If he’s out tonight, it could pose another problem for San Jose. The Sharks may also go without Dylan DeMelo, who played just four minutes last night after leaving the game with an undisclosed injury. My gut says Vlasic will go — DeMelo? That’s another story.
If DeMelo doesn’t go, the choice to replace him comes down to Mirco Mueller and Tim Heed, both of whom made the trip to Alberta with San Jose. Mueller is the obvious choice, but Heed could make his NHL debut on Wednesday night. Rumors swirled about the rookie making his debut against Edmonton swirled on Tuesday evening, but clearly those didn’t turn into anything.
The Sharks have found their offense as of late, scoring 11 goals in their last two games, but have also seen their stately defense turn into a gong show over the past five contests. The absence of Vlasic and David Schlemko is the prime culprit in that missing persons case, and if Vlasic is out again tonight you can expect another wild one.
San Jose and Calgary are 1-1-0 in their previous two meetings with the Sharks edging the goal differential battle 6-4. The teams play five games this season and close the season out against one another in San Jose on April 8, so nothing will be decided about the season series in Alberta this evening.
The Flames enter the day in fourth place in the Pacific with 46 points in 43 games and a goal differential of -5. Mikael Backlund and Johnny Gaudreau each have 27 points for Calgary, though Backlund has done so in 43 games and Gaudreau in 33. Backlund leads the team with 12 goals while Gaudreau leads the squad with 17 assists.
Both Troy Brouwer and Ladislav Smid are currently on the shelf for the Flames. Brouwer has been out since Dec. 27 with a hand injury while Smid hasn’t played at all this season with neck trouble. Don’t expect either to return to action against San Jose tonight.
Injury report and stats courtesy of hockey-reference.com.