The not-quite-hopeless New York Rangers (24-20-5, 6th Metropolitan) come to town tonight to play a sadly new-look Sharks (26-14-7, 2nd Pacific) squad. The real fall out from Joe Thornton's new/old knee injury remains to be seen, but he's set to miss at least two weeks, so tonight's lineup will have to make do. Whether the Sharks can weather the storm without the best player in the history of the franchise is a big question mark, but if they wanted a softball out of the gate, they got one.
New York has some significant injuries of their own, having recently lost prize free agent acquisition Kevin Shattenkirk to a torn meniscus and have been missing power forward and goalie tackler Chris Kreider since December. They're only two points out of an Eastern conference playoff spot, but they're sinking fast. Losers of their last three, and outscored 13-6 in those contests, the blue shirts are looking for a sign of life as they cling to their fading post season hopes.
Luckily for us, they seem to think that sign of life will come from back up net minder Ondrej Pavelec. Yes, that Ondrej Pavelec, the career .907 save percentage Pavelec. The Rangers seem to be resting starter and living legend Henrik Lundqvist after pulling him in the first period of a 6-3 rout at the hands of the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday.
The Sharks will be looking to rebound from a wild 5-4 overtime loss to the visiting Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday. The game cost the boys a valuable point in the standings, but more importantly, it cost them one (1) Thornton. He's been swapped out for a newly healthy Joonas Donskoi, which cushions the blow, but Thornton is not a guy who can be replaced easily, if at all.
The Sharks tuned up the Rangers on 23 October to a 4-1 victory in New York, so a win tonight would constitute a sweep of the baby little season series. This last Sharks game before the All Star Break has the potential to be a strong statement game to show the league and their fans that they will not go quietly into the night or vanish without a fight or whatever that definitely very real president said.
Timo Meier -- Joe Pavelski -- Mikkel Boedker
Tomas Hertl -- Logan Couture -- Kevin Labanc
Joonas Donskoi -- Chris Tierney -- Melker Karlsson
Joel Ward -- Barclay Goodrow -- Marcus Sorensen
Joakim Ryan -- Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic -- Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon -- Dylan DeMelo
Scratched: Tim Heed, Jannik Hansen
Injured: Joe Thornton (knee), Martin Jones (lower body)
This lineup is new and (not very) exciting, so expect a bit of a feeling out process up top. Sorensen was recalled from the AHL's San Jose Barracuda this morning to fill out the bottom six. Jones skated at practice yesterday, and is recovering as expected, whatever that means.
Rick Nash -- Mika Zibanejad -- Pavel Buchnevich
Mats Zuccarello -- J.T. Miller -- Jimmy Vesey
Michael Grabner -- Peter Holland -- Jesper Fast
Paul Carey -- David Desharnais -- Vinni Lettieri
Nick Holden -- Ryan McDonagh
Brady Skjei -- Marc Staal
Brendan Smith -- Tony DeAngelo
Scratched: Steven Kampfer
Injured: Kevin Hayes (leg contusion), Chris Kreider (rib surgery), Kevin Shattenkirk (knee surgery)
The Rangers solved all of their problems forever by claiming Cody McLeod from the Nashville Predators' waiver wire today. They also send Daniel Catenacci to the AHL's Hartford Wolf Pack. At least head coach Alain Vigneault seems to be giving Buchnevich the chance he deserves, although I wish he'd do it tomorrow instead.
Where to watch
Broadcast: NBCSCA, MSG 2
Stream: NHL.tv / NHL App
Radio: 98.5 KFOX / NHL App / Sharks App