The strangely good New Jersey Devils (37-27-8, 5th Metropolitan) will try to keep momentum up on what has been a pretty successful road trip so far with a visit with our very own San Jose Sharks (40-23-9, 2nd Pacific). The Devils have been bouyed this year by a(nother) break out season from Taylor Hall, whose 77 points, recently ended 26 game point streak, and legitimate Hart Trophy consideration has turned heads league wide. I mean, he ain’t no Adam Larsson, but this Hall kid may just be a player some day.
The Sharks return home for their last Eastern Conference opponent of the season after a pretty good 3-0-0 road trip. Their success through Western Canada helped to open up what has become a three point gap between them and the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings in the tight Pacific division standings. The Sharks are dogged by health concerns, however, and anyone who remembers last year’s false started playoff “run” knows how damning that can be.
Still, silver linings and all, Joonas Donskoi is day to day, Joe Thornton is skating, Joel Ward is off of injured reserve, Tim Heed has been recalled, and Melker Karlsson and Marc-Edouard Vlasic are both expected to play tonight after leaving Saturday’s 5-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks early. While the line up is never set in stone until puck drop, the Sharks should have mostly healthy bodies on the ice.
The Devils are in desperation mode. Despite Hall’s ridiculous 18 goals and 38 points in 26 games, he’s only recorded three points in five games since then, and the Devils went a pedestrian .500 (13-13-0) during those halcyon days. As a result, they cling precariously to the second Eastern Conference wild card spot, three points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets, and three points ahead of the suddenly lethal Florida Panthers, who have two fewer games played.
They’ve been strong on this road trip so far, though, with a 3-1-0 record on what will be a six game trip. Tonight will see the return of Cory Schneider between the pipes, after he’s backed up Keith Kinkaid for the first four games of the trip. Kinkaid had played well overall, putting the Kings down with a 38 save shut out on Saturday before allowing four goals on 36 Ducks shots the next night.
The Sharks have won four straight, and outscored opponents 21-13 in that time. Let’s give the Panthers some hope tonight.
Evander Kane -- Joe Pavelski -- Melker Karlsson
Tomas Hertl -- Logan Couture -- Mikkel Boedker
Timo Meier -- Chris Tierney -- Kevin Labanc
Barclay Goodrow -- Eric Fehr -- Jannik Hansen
Paul Martin -- Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic -- Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon -- Dylan DeMelo
Scratched: Joel Ward, Marcus Sorensen, Tim Heed
Injured: Joe Thornton (knee), Joonas Donskoi (upper body), Joakim Ryan (upper body)
As mentioned above, Thornton was seen skating earlier today, and Donskoi is officially classified as day to day.
Taylor Hall -- Nico Hischier -- Kyle Palmieri
Michael Grabner -- Travis Zajac -- Brian Gibbons
Patrick Maroon -- Blake Coleman -- Stefan Noesen
Drew Stafford -- Brian Boyle -- Jesper Bratt
Andy Greene -- Sami Vatanen
John Moore -- Damon Severson
Will Butcher -- Ben Lovejoy
Scratched: Jimmy Hayes, Mirco Mueller
Injured: Pavel Zacha (upper body), Miles Wood (upper body), Marcus Johansson (concussion)
Bratt is set to draw in for Wood, who was hurt on Sunday against the Ducks.
Where to watch
Broadcast: NBCSCA, MSG+, NHLN, SNW, SNO, SNE, SN1
Stream: NHL.tv / NHL App
Radio: 98.5 KFOX / NHL App / Sharks App