San Jose hosts Winnipeg for the only time this season at 1 p.m. PT at SAP Center in the first of three meetings between the teams as the Sharks look to snap a two-game losing streak. San Jose finally got its defense healthy on Saturday, so naturally head coach Pete DeBoer may have some decisions to make with his forward group.
It appears Joe Thornton escaped further punishment from the NHL Department of Player Safety for his spear of Paul Stastny (good news) but no further update has come on the status of Joonas Donskoi (upper body injury). If Donskoi remains sidelined, DeBoer can either roll with the same lineup as Saturday (listed below) or pop Ryan Carpenter into the lineup (he was recalled before Saturday’s game and healthy scratched).
Patrick Marleau – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Kevin Labanc – Logan Couture – Mikkel Boedker
Timo Meier – Chris Tierney – Joel Ward
Micheal Haley – Tommy Wingels – Melker Karlsson
The Sharks didn’t play a stellar game on Saturday, but considering they played more than half of it without Thornton I don’t think DeBoer needs to blow up the lineup for San Jose to beat Winnipeg. Still, with Danny O’Regan knocking on the door with the Barracuda and Carpenter likely getting tired of being a healthy scratch (though I’m sure enjoying his per diem) I wouldn’t be shocked to see Wingels sit in the stead of Carpenter.
Winnipeg isn’t enjoying life much this year in the Central. The Jets sit seven points out of a Central spot with both Nashville and Dallas ahead of them and things aren’t much prettier in the Wild Card race. The only teams the Jets are above in the Western Conference are Arizona and Colorado, which is a lot like saying your restaurant is better than a couple of closed down fast food restaurants inside of an abandoned shopping mall.
Which is all to say this is the kind of game the Sharks really need to win — or at least play well in. A matinee game against a bad team is a recipe for a letdown game in the best of times; in the midst of a losing streak? Well, I wouldn’t blame you for getting a little bit nervous about this one. Still, I like San Jose’s chances in this one if for no other reason than this will give me something to do during work today.