After a five-day break, the Sharks return to battle the Canucks at 7 p.m. on Saturday in Vancouver. San Jose holds a three-point lead in the Pacific on Edmonton with two games in hand as neither Anaheim nor the Oilers took advantage of the Sharks’ week off.
The Sharks beat the Canucks 4-1 in the teams’ only meeting of the season so far, but this time they’ll have to battle a new opponent: mumps. That’s right, mumps are back with a vengeance in the NHL and the Sharks are about to head into a war zone. San Jose couldn’t convince the league to force Vancouver to forfeit the game, apparently, so put on your Hazmat suits — we’re going in.
Unless your name is Joonas Donskoi. You’re staying behind. Yeah, the Finnish forward is still out with that mysterious upper body injury and I’m beginning to think we just might not see him play again this season. That’s me pulling out my “cynical injury speculation cap,” but I fully expected him to make the trip to Vancouver and now that he’s not... well, it’s nervous time.
As a result, at least in part, Kevin Labanc, Tim Heed and Barclay Goodrow have all been recalled to the Sharks. Why Goodrow instead of Timo Meier? Probably because Meier wasn’t going to play and they don’t have a problem stashing Goodrow in the Vancouver press box. That’s just a hunch, though.
Correction: The Sharks have 13 forwards including Donskoi, which means Goodrow will play tonight. So why Goodrow instead of Meier? In my opinion, a pretty terrible roster management decision!
The Canucks, as you might have heard, are a pile of hot garbage this season. Remember when people wanted you to believe they were hanging around in the postseason race? Take a peek at the standings real quick. I’ll wait. Go ahead. Did you do it? Yeah, they’re not hanging around in the playoff race. This is a team on the way to the lottery, which means it’s a team the Sharks will a) beat handily b) not take seriously or c) play well against and lose to anyway.
Only one way to find out!