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Sharks at Blackhawks Preview: Time for a redemption

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After losing 7-1 last night, the Sharks need to step it up in Chicago.

San Jose Sharks v Chicago Blackhawks Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Yikes, last night’s 7-1 loss to the Nashville Predators was a hard one to swallow. The San Jose Sharks will seek redemption tonight against the Chicago Blackhawks. It’s been a rough season for the Blackhawks, who are currently sitting in the last place of the Central Division. This will be the first meeting between the teams this season. Last year’s result was a positive one for the Sharks, winning two of their three meetings. This could be the perfect redemption story line they desperately need after a tough loss.

Before a hard-fought, but huge loss to first place Nashville Predators, the Sharks were on a winning streak. With the loss of Joe Thornton, players like Mikkel Boedker have stepped up offensively. Logan Couture scored the lone San Jose goal against Nashville, and I’m sure he’s revving for more. The Sharks will have to shine from the jump, putting pucks on net and playing tough defense to ensure a win in Chicago.

The Blackhawks are coming off an interesting run. They were beaten 3-1 by the Los Angeles Kings on Monday. Anton Forsberg had 29 saves on the night, with Patrick Sharp scoring the lone goal. They were able to hold off the Ottawa Senators to overtime on Wednesday. Forsberg had 32 saves, holding the Sens off in overtime. He managed to save five of the seven shots in the shootout. Patrick Kane leads the team in goals, so keep an eye on him tonight.

How will the Blackhawks fare without Corey Crawford?

The Blackhawk’s starting goalie Corey Crawford looks to be out of commission for the rest of the season. Crawford was pulled in the first period against the New Jersey Devils right before the holiday break. He allowed three goals on seven shots that night and was placed on the IR upon the return of hockey post-holiday. He was out a few games in early December with an upper-body injury. The Blackhawks seem to be looking less and less optimistic about his return in the final games of the season.

Crawford’s stats were pretty good. He was 16-9-2 prior to his injury. He had a .929 save percentage, allowing an average of 2.27 goals a game. Backup netminder Anton Forsberg has less impressive stats. He’s played a total of 22 games this season, with a 7-12-0 record. Sure, you can’t place all the blame on the goalie for the Blackhawks demise this season, but they certainly play a big role.

My guess is the Blackhawks will not fare well against the San Jose offense. With the return of Tomas Hertl, the offensive presence of Logan Couture, Mikkel Boedker, and Chris Tierney lately, and Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s assist streak, it looks grim for a team struggling between the pipes.

Can we expect more from Eric Fehr?

Ugh, I’m just not sure. Eric Fehr’s debut against Nashville was far from impressive. He played roughly 12 minutes, with one shot on goal. When he was on the ice, the Sharks took 38% of the score-and-venue adjusted shots. He had the third-worst deferential on the team.

Let’s be real, we all felt weird about this trade. Sure, he’s spent most of his time down in the AHL this season, and very little time with the Toronto Maple Leafs, where the Sharks acquired him from. His plus/minus is -1/50 on the season, he has a total of zero points, and his shooting percentage is 0/10.1. He averages about eight goals a year.

Should we cut him some slack? Maybe. Maybe the Sharks will allow him to prosper. I want to give him a chance, I really do. I hate to be so pessimistic about a player, but I really don’t think he will give us much more than he gave in Nashville. We will see if he hits the ice again tonight in Chicago.

Who in the heck will be between the pipes?

Peter DeBoer putting Aaron Dell in as a starter yesterday against a first-place Nashville team was a controversial decision, to say the least. Regardless of what his intentions were, and they are much debated, it wasn’t the right move. Dell would have been the best fit for tonight’s game. It only makes sense that Martin Jones will find himself in goal tonight. Dell is certainly far from solely to blame for the painful loss in Nashville, but it’s undeniable the amount of responsibility that falls on the goalies back in situations like this. It’s a good idea to put Martin Jones in tonight.

Bold prediction: Hot Boed hat trick. Is it far-fetched? Not anymore! I think Boedker will continue to thrive offensively. He’s earned a hat trick at this point, I think he’ll get it tonight.

Make sure you check back later for the starting line up and more in our gameday thread. If you have any bold predictions, let us know below. Here’s to the Sharks redemption tonight!