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Sharks at Blues: Can injury ridden Sharks pull through?

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Two desperate teams go head to head.

NHL: Vancouver Canucks at San Jose Sharks Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

The San Jose Sharks are back on the road for a four-game roadie and the first stop on the trip is St. Louis. We’re almost through February, but this is the first meeting of the season between these two teams. The Sharks and Blues play three times this season, twice in St. Louis and once in San Jose on March 8.

The Sharks currently sit in second place in the Pacific Division with a 32-19-8 record. The Blues are fourth in the Central Division and in the first wildcard spot in the Western Conference with a 34-22-4 record.

San Jose is looking to string together a few wins and stay ahead of the Calgary Flames, Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings. Sunday’s 5-2 win over the Dallas Stars was a strong offensive showing and the Sharks will need to keep that offense rolling on this road trip.

St. Louis has lost its last three games and is 3-4-1 in the month of February. The Blues have not played since Friday, so the Sharks need to be cautious. You can bet St. Louis used the off time to retool and refocus its offense.

Will Brent Burns or Tomas Hertl be in the lineup?

The real issue for the Sharks tonight will be whether the team can withstand the injuries. We already know Joel Ward and Joe Thornton are out. Tomas Hertl and Brent Burns are now questionable.

Burns left late in Sunday’s game with some sort of injury. According to Curtis Pashelka of the Mercury News Burns didn’t even do a full practice on Saturday because of “general soreness.” But the real indicator that Burns may be out tonight is that the Sharks have recalled Paul Martin from the Barracuda. Martin hasn’t played a game since December 7, so if he’s in the lineup tonight, you can bet Burns is hurting pretty badly.

As for Hertl, he left in the middle of last Tuesday’s game against the Arizona Coyotes and hasn’t played since. We know he has an upper body injury, but there’s no word on how serious it is. Hertl is on the trip with the team so he could be back on the ice tonight or at the very least sometime this week.

In his absence, the Sharks will continue to lean on rookies Danny O’Regan, Barclay Goodrow, and Marcus Sorensen.

Will Mikkel Boedker continue to earn his pay?

Boedker has four goals and five points in his last three games. While it’s a small sample size, a guy who scores like that is well worth the $4M/year he’s being paid — if he does it consistently. Boedker seems to have found a rhythm on Chris Tierney’s wing. While I’m not confident it’s going to stay that way, I’m certainly hoping it does.

Can Joe Pavelski start a scoring streak?

Pavelski has been spotty lately. He put up three points on Sunday — scoring a goal and assisting on two others — but the three games before that he was ice cold. He put up four points against Edmonton, but that was on February 10. Point being, the Sharks need more from a top-six forward like Pavelski. I know he’s missing those sweet saucer passes from Joe Thornton, but he needs to find a way to get on the scoring sheet a little more.

Bold Prediction: I’m really bad at this, having been amazingly wrong the last two times I tried, but I predict a 4-2 Blues win with the final goal being an empty netter. It will be a chippy affair, both teams are battling to stay in the playoff hunt and they desperately want those two points. But the Sharks will eventually succumb to the injuries and lose.

We’ll have the starting line ups and an open game thread an hour before puck drop. In the meantime, drop your own bold prediction below!