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Sharks vs Kings Gameday: Mueller? Mueller?

(tigerstrypes.com)

Game 38: San Jose Sharks (23-13-1) vs. Los Angeles Kings (18-15-4)
Gametime: 7:00pm PST / 10:00pm EST
TV: NBCSN
Radio: 98.5 KFOX

It will be a New Year’s Eve rematch (#GetNewYearsEven) at SAP Center tonight as the San Jose Sharks host the Los Angeles Kings following a 3-2 loss to their Southern California rivals over the weekend.

The Sharks will still be missing two vital parts of their defensive core in David Schlemko and Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who was placed on the IR earlier this week after taking a slapshot to the face against Philadelphia last Friday and turning into a slightly better-looking Dustin Brown:

As the Sharks 3-2 loss to LA on Saturday (and the 2014 playoffs) taught us, missing Vlasic makes a glaring difference in the Sharks defensive game. Losing both Vlasic and Schlemko at the same time is a big hurdle the Sharks will need to overcome tonight if they want a chance to get two points. Both Dylan DeMelo and the much-debated Mirco Mueller will slot in on the Sharks defense tonight after being called up from the Barracuda. Mueller’s play has considerably improved in the minors since his forgetful 2014-15 debut, but his lack of experience playing under Pete DeBoer’s system might make for some difficulties on the blue line tonight.

Micheal Haley is set to yet again center the never-ending carousel that is the Sharks fourth line. CSN’s Kevin Kurz recently noted the importance of Haley in games vs Pacific Division teams:

(http://www.csnbayarea.com/sharks/nhl-gameday-first-place-sharks-resume-schedule-anaheim)
(CSN Bay Area)

While the narrative of Haley dropping the gloves to give the Sharks energy in rivalry games is fun to write about, San Jose is actually 3-4 in games that Haley’s had fights in this year:

(hockey-reference.com)
(hockey-reference.com)

Get better soon, Tomas Hertl.

On the plus side, Kevin LaBanc, our new Lord of the Sixth Round, has four points in his last five games and 10 points in 24 overall games. I noted at the beginning of the season I didn’t think he was going to work out in the Sharks’ system given his size/lack of skating ability. I can only pray our Lord LaBanc may forgive my lack of faith.

As Kevin Kurz noted earlier today, 14 of the next 16 Sharks games will be against teams in the Western Conference jockeying for playoff spots. Simply put, the Sharks cannot afford another slow start like they had on Saturday night. They’ll need to come out the gate quick tonight and get to the Kings early if they want to win with this lineup.

Los Angeles Kings Projected Lines

Marian Gaborik – Anze Kopitar – Dustin Brown

Tanner Pearson – Jeff Carter – Devin Setoguchi

Kyle Clifford – Nic Dowd – Trevor Lewis

Dwight King – Nick Shore – Jordan Nolan

Derek Forbort – Drew Doughty

Jake Muzzin – Alec Martinez

Brayden McNabb – Kevin Gravel

Peter Budaj

Jeff Zatkoff

San Jose Sharks Projected Lineups

Patrick Marleau – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski

Kevin LaBanc – Logan Couture – Mikkel Boedker

Timo Meier – Chris Tierney – Joonas Donskoi

Melker Karlsson – Micheal Haley – Joel Ward

Paul Martin – Brent Burns

Brenden Dillon – Justin Braun

Mirco Mueller – Dylan DeMelo

Martin Jones

Aaron Dell

Sharks Kings Advantage
23-13-1 Record 18-15-4 Sharks
1st, Pacific Div. Standing 5th, Pacific
8-2-0 Last 10 Games 4-4-2 Sharks
17.2 (17th) Power Play 15.6 (23rd) Sharks
83.8 (9th) Penalty Kill 83.2 (11th) Sharks
92 (22nd) Goals For 91 (24th) Sharks
80 (4th) Goals Against 88 (6th) Sharks
12 Goal Differential 3 Sharks

About Joe Hospodor

Joe Hospodor (@ABoyAndHisTeam) is a Bay Area native and has been a Sharks fan since his first game in 1993. He currently lives in Los Angeles for some stupid reason.

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