The Sharks are in Glendale to face the Arizona Coyotes for the first time this season at Gila River Arena at 7:00pm, and yours truly—Orion, Ori for short, Orio for medium—will be there in person to support our good, good teal boys. Make sure to follow @fearthefin on Twitter to get hot takes straight from Arizona during the game.
Four of those teal boys are injured: Paul Martin with his never-ending ankle woes, Barclay Goodrow and Melker Karlsson with upper-body injuries, and Joe Pavelski with his mysterious “undisclosed injury” that he is, for better or worse, playing through. As of yesterday, Karlsson was practicing in a no-contact jersey, and he traveled with the team, but we probably won’t see him on the ice for the game. There’s no update on whether Joe Thornton is feeling 100 percent in his knee rehab, either.
The Coyotes’ injury list is short: Jakob Chychrun, still out with his knee injury, didn’t play against the Toronto Maple Leafs on November 20th, and it’s unlikely he’ll play tonight.
The two teams, all in all, have not had comparable seasons. The Coyotes have been record-breakingly abysmal, except as of late, given their current three game win streak. Even still, the Coyotes only have five wins and 13 points total to speak of, which is, in a word, Bad.
The Sharks, at present, are just on the cusp of a Wild Card spot, and have won twice as many times as the Coyotes in four fewer games. Still, the Sharks are on a three-game losing streak. Brent Burns hasn’t been scoring, and neither has anyone else, really, but playing against a team like the Coyotes is the perfect time to turn that around. It’s not as though Arizona is an offensive juggernaut — they sit at 28th in the league with 2.48 goals per game, just above the Sharks’ 2.42 at 29th.
While Arizona hasn’t played many games at home yet this season, they’re 1-6-1 in games played at Gila River. The Sharks are 4-2-0 on the road and 3-1-1 in division games, compared to Arizona, who has yet to win a division game at 0-2-1.
The Coyotes are fifth in the league for penalty minutes, averaging 7.7 minutes in the sin bin per game, so that could bring life into the Sharks’ abysmal power play (15.3%, 28th in the league). The Sharks’ penalty kill remains strong at 89.2% (2nd in the league) while the Coyotes sit at 78.8% (20th overall). If it becomes a special teams battle, the Sharks will have an edge.
If all goes well, both streaks will be snapped tonight. The Sharks could really use the win to start this tiny Pacific road trip, especially before facing the somehow-still-going-strong Vegas Golden Knights on Friday.
As a closing tidbit, for anyone who’s superstitious out there, the only other time I saw a game at Gila River Arena, the team I was rooting for (the Ottawa Senators; don’t @ me) won. I’ll be sending those vibes to the Sharks tonight.