Thirteen of the sweetest words in the English language preface the San Jose Sharks' (43-23-9, 2nd Pacific) visit to the windy city tonight: "The Chicago Blackhawks (31-36-9, 7th Central) have been officially mathematically eliminated from Stanley Cup Playoff contention." It sounds nice, right?
The Sharks are winners of seven straight, averaging just under five goals per game during an 11-2-0 streak since the trade deadline. That dominance will be put to the test as the season plays out, tonight's game is the only one remaining against a team that is firmly out of playoff contention. Indeed, tonight marks the start of a four game trip that includes games in St. Louis (2nd Western wild card), Nashville (1st, Western Conference), and Las Vegas (we know this one already).
Still, a win tonight, coupled with a Vegas Golden Knights loss to the Colorado Avalanche would close the gap for first place in the Pacific to four points, and open up a six point gap with the trailing Anaheim Ducks, who've played one more precious game. The Sharks' shot for that lofty seat is still a long shot, but with one more head to head game with the current champs later this week, our boys have plenty to play for. An eight game win streak would be the Sharks' longest since March 2011, and the third longest streak in franchise history.
Unfortunately, Chicago's Victor Ejdsell is set to make his NHL debut tonight, and, as is tradition, is guaranteed to score at least one. Ejdsell was an afterthought in the trade that sent Ryan Hartman to the Nashville Predators on 26 February and, with Chicago's season all but over, they'll want to see what he has to offer.
Evander Kane -- Joe Pavelski -- Melker Karlsson
Tomas Hertl -- Logan Couture -- Mikkel Boedker
Timo Meier -- Chris Tierney -- Kevin Labanc
Marcus Sorensen -- Barclay Goodrow -- Jannik Hansen
Marc-Edouard Vlasic -- Justin Braun
Paul Martin -- Brent Burns
Brenden Dillon -- Dylan DeMelo
Scratched: Tim Heed, Joel Ward
Injured: Joonas Donskoi (upper body), Eric Fehr (lower body), Joakim Ryan (upper body), Joe Thornton (knee)
Brandon Saad -- Victor Ejdsell -- Patrick Kane
Vinnie Hinostroza -- Nick Schmaltz -- Alex DeBrincat
Tomas Jurco -- Artem Anisimov -- Andreas Martinsen
Patrick Sharp -- David Kampf -- Matthew Highmore
Duncan Keith -- Brent Seabrook
Erik Gustafsson -- Jan Rutta
Jordan Oesterle -- Connor Murphy
Injured: Corey Crawford (upper body), Anthony Duclair (lower body), John Hayden (upper body), Jonathan Toews (upper body)
Where to watch
Broadcast: NBCSCA, NBCSCH
Stream: NHL.tv / NHL App
Radio: 98.5 KFOX / NHL App / Sharks App