It feels like the San Jose Sharks (37-18-8) just played the Boston Bruins (36-17-9) because they did — eight days ago, on Feb. 18. Sure, the last game saw some questionable goals that may or may not have led to the Sharks’ demise, but Jumbo Joe Thornton also had his first hat trick since 2010. He was just one goal away from the infamous four goal trick (I’m not sure I’m allowed to call it what he does). Maybe tonight will be the night?
Frustrating is one way to describe their last game. The Sharks should have had it in the bag, but a questionable goal call kept Boston in it, sending the game to overtime where the B’s scored first. The 6-5 final score saw a lot of goals, a lot of interesting calls and some emotions between players. Tonight’s match up will feel like unsettled business for the Sharks, while the Bruins will look to keep their eight-game point streak alive.
The Bruins last hit the ice on Saturday against the St. Louis Blues. They lost that one 2-1 in a shootout. The lone Boston goal came off Chris Wagner’s stick. He also scored last week against the Sharks, so he will certainly be one to watch tonight. The Bruins are still without point leader David Pastranak, which is a huge blow to their lineup. Players like Chris Wagner and Jake DeBrusk have stepped up to fill the void left by his absence. DeBrusk has scored goals in four of the Bruins’ last five games, making him someone the Sharks’ blueline has to prepare for. The kid is truly on fire.
As for the Sharks, they’re coming off a big win against the Detroit Red Wings. Joe Pavelski scored a natural hat trick, securing his lead for most goals scored in teal this season. Brent Burns notched his 70th point ... in February. The man has 57 assists! Things are looking good for the Sharks, minus a little goaltending panic Sharks fans across the country are feeling. Aaron Dell had an .870 save percentage against one of the worst teams in the league this season. This is something to be nervous about as the Sharks prepare for the postseason. The trade deadline has now passed and no solution was attempted in that regard. I wouldn’t sweat it just yet, guys (I am lying, I am sweating).
What the trade deadline brought
Doug Wilson wasn’t the only general manager making moves as Monday’s deadline arrived. Don Sweeney also pulled some stunts, acquiring Marcus Johansson from the New Jersey Devils. I’m sure we will see the left-winger join his new team tonight. Johansson has played 48 games this season with the Devils, netting 12 goals and 15 assists. Not too shabby of a pick up for Boston. The Bruins had their eyes on everyone from Wayne Simmonds to Tyler Toffoli and landed none of the above. They did sign veteran Lee Stempniak for whatever reason. Is this their Michael Haley equivalent?
As for the Sharks, they landed a player who had just scored against them hours earlier. Gustav Nyquist should play his first game in teal tonight. Hopefully he can find the Bruins net as easily as he found the Sharks’ on Sunday. They also acquired Jonathan Dahlen from the Vancouver Canucks. He’ll be hanging with the Barracuda, though.
Both the Bruins and the Sharks are missing two of their star players. David Pastrnak took a tumble and broke his thumb in a non-hockey related accident. The Bruins just got word yesterday that his return doesn’t look like it’s just around the corner. Pasta has two more weeks in a cast before being fitted for a splint and even then, his return is not guaranteed He did however take to the ice for the first time since his surgery — without holding a stick, of course.
Erik Karlsson left the frustrating 4-0 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday. He has missed some time with the team this season with a groin injury, which seems to be plaguing him again. Pete DeBoer continued to reassure us all he doesn’t believe it’s serious, but after missing nine games due to this same injury, can we trust him? He also reminded us he is not an injury specialist, replying when asked if Karlsson should stay off the ice for extended time to heal, “ I don’t think so, but I don’t know, I’m not a groin specialist.”
Karlsson continues to travel with the team, a sign that his return may be sooner than later. But the Sharks need him healthy for playoffs and appear to be playing it safe with him in the meantime.
The Bruins fans are also known for giving their starting goalie Tukka Rask a hard time, but I would happily take him off their hands if they feel ungrateful. The Sharks’ problem between the pipes has been a nagging issue lately.
Martin Jones has a .897 save percentage overall, while backup Aaron Dell sits closely with .892. Boston is pretty solid in goal, Rask having a .920 save percentage, while backup Jaroslav Halak has a .924. Halak and Rask share play fairly evenly, Rask playing in 34 games while Halak has played 31. Aaron Dell has only played 20 games this season while Jones has played 47. Maybe Jones is burnt out and Dell needs more ice time to feel comfortable.
I couldn’t tell you the exact problem, all that I know is I am stressed. Should a goaltending trade have been made? Probably. Where do they go from here? I have no idea. I’m sure tonight we will see Jones versus Rask and just hope for the best?
Bold prediction: Joe Thornton gets the special trick he deserves against Boston. You know the one.