It’s gotten ugly for the San Jose Sharks lately. They’re riding a two-game losing streak and are 1-4-0 in their last five games, ranking sixth in the Pacific Division, and 23rd in the league.
Coming into this game, their opponents for tonight, the Carolina Hurricanes, have been rolling, sitting second overall with a 14-2-0 record, accompanied by a scary four-game winning streak. These “bunch of jerks” have been on the rise over the last couple of seasons, but they’ve taken it to the next level this season and have been very fun to watch.
Winger Andrei Svechnikov leads the Hurricanes in points with 19 (7 goals, 12 assists), bouncing back from a rough campaign in the shortened 2020-21 season. Sebastian Aho leads in goals, scoring 3 in the last four games, and 8 total on the season.
Defender Tony DeAngelo (I know, I know), has led the blue line offensively for the ‘Canes, stepping up in the absence of Dougie Hamilton with 15 points through 16 games. Carolina has a stock of offensive weapons, which is what makes them so good.
In net for the Hurricanes, expect to see Frederik Andersen, who has arguably been the best goaltender in the NHL this season. He has gone 11-2-0 with a .937 save percentage and 12.54 goals saved above expectation (GSAx), quietly proving all the Toronto Maple Leafs fans who slandered his name wrong.
A sneaky player to watch out for tonight? Seth Jarvis. The rookie center has been on fire. Jarvis has goals in his last three games and is even getting some looks on the power play. Keep an eye out for him, I warned you.
It’s starting to seem like the the Sharks are heading back to their old ways of selfish hockey. This game against an elite team should show if they can persevere through sloppy play and work as a team to get back to the early-season success that made them such an exciting team to watch. I know it’s still early in the season, but things can get ugly fast, so I would consider this an important game for San Jose if they want to stay in the playoff hunt.
The team has struggled to score, with just 8 goals through their last five games, with four of them coming in the win against the Minnesota Wild. I can’t even name a single quality scoring chance that came in Saturday’s brutal loss to Washington.
The Sharks will be without rookie winger Jonathan Dahlen for at least tonight, as he suffered an apparent upper-body injury on Saturday against the Washington Capitals. It’s a big blow to the Sharks’ top-six, but the fact that it’s only a day-to-day status is a positive sign, as the collision looked like it could have resulted in much worse. He’ll be replaced by Rudolfs Balcers on the first line.
Will the Sharks’ depth score?
I covered this topic two weeks ago, and unfortunately, nothing has changed since. The leading point-scorer from the Sharks’ bottom-six has totaled 4 points in 16 games. It’s been hard to watch when they’re in the offensive zone, and it’s evidently the root of the team’s offensive struggles.
Nick Bonino is scoreless through 17 games, while Matt Nieto and Jonah Gadjovich both have one assist through 10. At what point does the coaching staff consider some options from the Barracuda in the American Hockey League? I’d say it will have to come pretty soon — the team must be getting impatient watching this.
Hopefully, they can break through tonight, for the sake of every Sharks fan who doesn’t want to fall asleep during the game.
Can Gregor push for a roster spot?
Gregor made his season debut last night in the absence of Kevin Labanc and will stay in the line-up with Dahlen out.
“I thought it was solid. I thought our line created a couple of really good chances, just it didn’t bury,” Gregor said on his debut. “I’ve been confident in my play in the minors and I was confident in my play last night so I think that I’m on a good step here.”
Gregor was, in fact, solid against Washington. He was one of the only noticeable Sharks skaters in the first period. His play fell off later on, after taking a pair of penalties, and he’ll look to find more consistency in tonight’s game, as I would assume lots of roster spots are up for grabs.
Will the Sharks get another elite performance from Reimer?
Well, they’d better hope so. The Hurricanes are fourth in the NHL in goals per game, sixth in shooting percentage, ninth in power play percentage, and 10th in shots on goal per game. They’re a great offensive team, and the Sharks are going to need Reimer to play another elite game.
After Hill’s early struggles on the season and the Sharks' horrific defensive efforts, Reimer may be this team’s last resort.
Bold Prediction: Kevin Labanc read all of your mean comments and scores the game-winning goal.