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Sharks vs. Maple Leafs Preview: Auston Matthews comes to SAP Center

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Toronto’s savior comes to San Jose.

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at Toronto Maple Leafs John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

SAP Center gets its first look at Auston Matthews tonight as the Toronto Maple Leafs come to town for the only time during the regular season. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on CSN-California as the Sharks welcome home former Team Teal member Roman Polak. I’m sure he’ll receive a warm welcome at the Shark Tank.

San Jose has picked up a point in six-straight games and in eight of its last 10. Not too bad for a team that hasn’t made any trade deadline moves and yet continues to extend its lead in the Pacific as the Ducks and Oilers fail to gain ground. The Kings and Flames are battling it out for a Wild Card spot, just like we all predicted, and frankly, I couldn’t be happier.

Toronto is doing the same in the Eastern Conference. The Maple Leafs just bolstered their roster by adding Brian Boyle from the Tampa Bay Lightning. Why did the Leafs, a non-contender, add a rental? Who knows! The NHL is a crazy league with crazy general managers.

The Leafs are hanging on to a Wild Card spot and are just behind the Boston Bruins in the Atlantic. Perhaps playoff experience is desperately important for them this season and they’re going “all-in” to get it. Toronto is good this year; at least, the Leafs are good enough to make the playoffs and perhaps even surprise somebody thanks to their group of high-end skilled players.

Just don’t look too closely at their defense. I’m just kidding, go ahead and look.

Morgan Rielly — Alexey Marchenko

Jake Gardiner — Nikita Zaitsev

Matt Hunwick — Roman Polak

Oh boy that bottom pairing is a doozy isn’t it? Hunwick and Polak may very well be the worst pairing in the entire NHL. As someone who watched Polak play a lot of minutes in the NHL last season ... boy, I don’t miss that at all.

Meanwhile, the Sharks will be without Joonas Donskoi again, though both he and Dylan DeMelo skated on Monday. It sounds like the Finnish forward is nearing his return. That’s good news, because it was starting to feel like we’d never see Donskoi again. No word as of yet on who we will see in goal. I’m sure it will be Martin Jones.