The San Jose Sharks have been off to a hot start but now the injury bug threatens so slow their momentum as the Sharks visit a team who is on the opposite trajectory with injury issues of their own in the New Jersey Devils.
Breaking Down The New Jersey Devils
The New Jersey Devils were never expected to make much noise this season as many pegged them more likely to draft Auston Matthews than sniff the playoffs. The Devils are in the painful stages of a rebuild under the new regime of former Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Ray Shero and John Hynes who replaced the interim coaching staff left in the wake of the firing of current Sharks coach Peter DeBoer. This devils line up lacks any serious star power, not to take anything away from the Mike Cammalleri’s of the world but as probably their best player (1 Goal, 2 Assists, -2) You would never put him in the same category as the top talents of a team like Detroit, Washington or even Buffalo at this point. Its not all bad for the Devils though as Adam Larsson should be a stud defenceman for years to come. Adam Henrique may not be a true number one center in this league but he is a solid second line center on most teams. Finally with players like Pavel Zacha in the pipe line as long as this rebuild show patience the Devils may eventually return to level of their former glory days.
Tonight it’s expected that both Travis Zajac who has been nursing an injury will not be in the line up while Cory Schneider who missed the last game for the birth of his child will return to the line up tonight for their contest against the San Jose Sharks. The projected lineup for the Devils is below.
Projected Devils Lineup
M. Cammalleri – A. Henrique – Lee Stempniak
J. Tlusty – J. Josefson – B. O’Neil
R. Boucher – S. Kalinin – K. Palmieri
T. Ruutu – S. Gionta – J. Tootoo
A. Greene – A. Larsson
J. Merrill – J. Moore
D. Schlemko – D. Severson
Breaking Down The San Jose Sharks
Peter DeBoer returns to the city that he called home for nearly 4 seasons as the San Jose Sharks visit the Devils. The Sharks who have been on a roll thus far behind the stellar play of Martin Jones (0.333 GAA, 0.987 SV% and 3 Wins) who will get the start tonight and is 40 seconds away from busting the Sharks record for a shutout streak previously set by backup Alex Stalock. Not all is well for the Sharks though as the injury bug has crept up on the team. The most significant injury is to second line center Logan Couture who has broken his fibula and has returned home to undergo surgery on Saturday that will leave him out 4 to 6 weeks. First line wing Joonas Donskoi will not be in the line up as he is nursing a lower body injury from blocking a puck in the Sharks match up against the Anaheim Ducks. Sharks forward Raffi Torres continues to serve his 41 suspension.
Drawing into the line up is previous healthy scratch Ben Smith, and San Jose Barracuda call up Nikolay Goldobin. For Goldobin the 2014 first round pick of the Sharks, this is a significant opportunity to show the coaching staff that he is ready to make the jump to the NHL game full time and with a strong showing may even be able to take Donskoi’s place on the top line. The issue for Goldobin though is proving that for all his offensive instincts that he can not be a liability away from the puck. Personally I am excited to see what he can do.
Projected Sharks Lineup (Per Kevin Kurz)
N. Goldobin – J. Thornton – J. Pavelski
P. Marleau – T. Hertl – J. Ward
M. Nieto – C. Tierney – T. Wingels
B. Goodrow – B. Smith – M. Brown
M. Vlassic – J. Braun
P. Martin – B. Burns
B. Dillon – M. Tennyson