Almost two months to the day, the San Jose Sharks will prepare to play a game with Logan Couture. The centerman was taken off the injured reserve list Monday and is “dying to get back” to playing for his team. It’s the spark this team needs right now.
Losing the last three games, two of which looked bad (no, I’m not counting the two “teaser goals” to make it close) it has put the Sharks looking comfortably in second staying on the heels of the Kings, to seeing the Coyotes, Canucks, Ducks (and even the Oilers and Flames) in their rear view mirrors. The Pacific Division might be “bad” but it will be competitive, as it looks like only the guaranteed top three will get into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Which is why every goal, save, win, point is important, despite the calendar showing December. Couture perhaps won’t be game ready, but he will play per San Jose Mercury News Sharks Beat Writer, Curtis Pashelka. He assumes his usual spots on the second line with Patrick Marleau and Joel Ward. Pashelka has reported that he will also be on the top power play unit. While the Sharks power play input had three tallies on Saturday night, it’s still a struggle, however, Team Teal enters the day ranked 18th in success with the man advantage.
With the return of Couture to the lineup there has been changes all around. Ben Smith goes to the IR list, Marc-Edouard Vlasic isn’t expected to play on this road trip. Joonas Donskoi, who was a winger on the second line with Marleau and Ward, goes to a new fourth line, in hopes to roll four lines. Here’s how the San Jose “Road Warriors” will roll tonight:
Karlsson – Thornton – Pavelski
Marleau – Couture – Ward
Nieto – Hertl – Wingels
Zubrus – Tierney – Donskoi
Burns – Martin
Dillon – Braun
Mueller – Tennyson
For the Flames, they have started to come on strong, despite missing one of the defensive pieces in Kris Russell. Calgary has 22 points and are right in the thick of things again, despite being the worst defensive team in the league. The Flames have allowed a league high 93 goals in their first 26 games. The teams have played one game this season so far, a 5-2 Sharks drubbing of Calgary in San Jose. This is the first game in Canada this season.
Back on the road, where they have reigned supreme. A huge back to back against division rivals to keep a strangle hold on the second spot in the PAcific.
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