Hey there it’s Erik Kuhre, you can always follow me on Twitter (@Puckguy14) but here’s 14 things you need to know before the San Jose Sharks take on the Calgary Flames at the Saddledome at 6:30pm on CSN California and the Sharks Radio Network.
1. Good Victory Last Night
In their inaugural trip to Edmonton’s new Rogers Place (not to be confused with Rogers Arena in Vancouver or Rogers Centre, the Blue Jays ballpark in Toronto) San Jose came out on top 5-3. Nice early start, little hiccups middle of the first and early in the third, but the Sharks persevered, which you will expect to do in the playoffs and win in the “House that Drew Remenda Built”.
2. Boedker on Fire
After a schnide of nearly 30 games that ended with a shot deflected off the arm, Mikkel Boedker easily had his best offensive game in teal last night. A hat trick which was set up by being in the right place in the right time. Keep it going Boedker.
3. Pickled Perfection
After missing four games due to facial contusions and fractures, Marc-Edouard Vlasic returned to a Sharks squad that needed his shutdown capabilities. He kept megastar Connor McDavid in check. How much so? McDavid played over 24 minutes and had only two shots on goal and no points with a -1 plus/minus ranking. If that wasn’t enough, he also had two assists on the night. He is still healing, hence the big visor (similar to what Dany Heatley wore) to get him back out on the ice.
4. Lighting the Lamp More
At one time, the Sharks were bottom five in the league in goal scoring. In two of their last three games, San Jose has scored at least four goals, going 2-1 in that span. Yes, Brodie Brazil they finally got off the five schnide. The good part is up until last night in Edmonton, there was no need to score five, albeit the fifth was insurance and a dagger to the Oilers.
5. Like Wall
Defensively San Jose has been top five in the league for goals allowed. Through half of the year, Team Teal has allowed only 93 goals. Only Washington, Columbus, Minnesota have allowed fewer. Incredible kudos has to go to the coaching staff, the players, especially Martin Jones, Aaron Dell and the entire defensive unit.
6. De-Fensively “De”ng Up
Looks like Dylan DeMelo, (who is filling in for David Schlemko who has be in and out of the lineup the last month or so) is on the shelf taking an inadvertant slash in the second period of the game last night. Most likely it will be Mirco Mueller taking the spot on the third defensive unit. However, with teams trying to avoid playing defensemen playing on their off wing, could we see Tim Heed make his NHL debut? Either way, expect them to be paired with Brenden Dillon tonight.
7. Minimal Lineup Changes Tonight
We know a new defenseman will be in tonight, but does Aaron Dell get the nod tonight? Dell is from nearby Airdrie, Alberta. As for the rest of the squad? Here’s what we’ll see at 6:30:
Meier – Thornton – Pavelski
Labanc – Couture – Donskoi
Marleau – Tierney – Ward
Karlsson – Haley – Boedker
Vlasic – Braun
Martin – Burns
Dillon – Mueller / Heed
Jones / Dell
8. Back to Back Strength
We always talk about tired legs at the end of the second game of back to backs. San Jose has not let that effect them that much this season. Team Teal is 4-2 in the back end of consecutive games. Recently, they lost in Los Angeles on New Year’s Eve in their most recent back end game.
9. Pride of the Pacific
Early in the season when point totals were low, the Pacific Division has been touted as the weakest division in the league. While some will still argue that, with the playoff race officially beginning with the second half, the race has never been tighter. First place to sixth place is separated by eight points. If the playoffs started today, there would be five Pacific Division teams in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, with Vancouver out due to regulation / overtime win tiebreakers.
10. Measuring Stick for Flames
Calgary who sits in the second wild card spot considers tonight a measuring stick as to where they stack with contenders. “I think it’s a statement for us when you play teams above us,” goaltender Chad Johnson said. “You want to be able to know you can compete with them. We beat them earlier in the year in San Jose. It’s a challenge for us.” Calgary played a dominant game in San Jose on November 3rd that saw a late Matthew Tkachuk goal ruin a Sharks comeback in the third period.
11. Johnson or Elliott?
Calgary traded for former Blues netminder Brian Elliott in the offseason to shore up the revolving door of goalies that have come through the Saddledome doors since Miikka Kiprusoff retired. Elliott has struggled, although has started to get his groove back. It’s likely that Chad Johnson will start in nets for the flaming C’s tonight. Johnson is 14-9-1 with a 2.25 goals against and an impressive .922 save percentage.
12. Veteran Countdowns
While we are starting to get the buzz for Patrick Marleau closing in on 500 goals, there’s another milestone nearby. Joe Thornton is sitting on 988 career assists. We will be tracking it the whole way on Pucknology and on Twitter @Pucknology
13. Sharks Tweetup 2017 on January 21st
We’ve partnered with the Sharks to promote Social Media Night. An enhanced social media experience will take place at the game on Saturday, January 21st when the Sharks take on the Colorado Avalanche at the Shark Tank.
Once the doors open to SAP Center, head to the Sharks Foundation Kiosk on the concourse by section 118-120 as we will have our sixth annual #SharksTweetup.
What is a Tweetup you say? It’s a gathering of friends and fellow Sharks fans from Twitter to meet the person interacting with online! Great way to meet familiar faces and introduce yourself to new ones! This will take place from 6:15 – 7:00 so get to the Tank early! (Yes the buttons are back!)
14. Pucknology After Dark After the Game
Don’t forget! Your voice will be heard following the game on Pucknology After Dark, your interactive Sharks postgame show. Opinions, recaps, your tweets and who knows what else! Subscribe to our YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/PucknologyAfterDark1