The sixth-place San Jose Sharks are six points behind fourth-place Arizona for the West’s fourth and final playoff spot. The Sharks have nine games left and one in hand on the Coyotes. Fifth-place St. Louis hosts Colorado in the evening.
San Jose Sharks (18-24-5)
Some changes as both Labanc and Donato are out. Barabanov makes his #SJSharks debut.
— Locked on Karlsson's Apple (@LockedOnSharks) April 26, 2021
Arizona Coyotes (21-22-5)
No lineup changes expected tonight when the Coyotes face the San Jose Sharks at 7:30 PM at SAP Center.
Darcy Kuemper will make his 5th straight start in goal, coming off a shutout of the Kings on Saturday.
AZ is 3-0-1 vs. SJ this season.
By puck drop, Avs-Blues should be over.
— Craig Morgan (@CraigSMorgan) April 26, 2021
Coyotes line rushes (4/24 at LAK)
Bunting – Schmaltz – Keller
Crouse – Dvorak – Kessel
Hunt – Larsson – Hayden
Brassard – Pederson – Fischer
OEL – Lyubushkin
Chychrun – Goligoski
Hjalmarsson – Demers
— Alex Kinkopf (@AEKinkopf) April 25, 2021
Where to Watch
Puck drop is 7:30 PM PT at SAP Center. Watch it on NBC Sports Bay Area, Bally Sports Arizona Plus, or NHL.tv.
The San Jose Sharks have been going young all season, but are they finally committing to it in full?
“There’s gonna be some games here, where they’re probably going to be some young guys getting in,” Bob Boughner admitted. “That’s the position we put ourselves in.”
Josef Korenar starting in goal, for example, is perhaps a raising of that white flag – though he can’t be much worse than Martin Jones, right?
26-year-old Alexander Barabanov and Jeffrey Viel drawing in for the banged-up Kevin Labanc and Ryan Donato may not seem like servicing the youth, but it sounds like it’s coming.
“We got to make decisions on guys moving forward, who’s gonna play,” Boughner noted, “the young guys are gonna get opportunities, and [some guys] maybe need the rest.”
Joachim Blichfeld just got called up. Who’s next? Ryan Merkley? Ivan Chekhovich? Alexei Melnichuk? It’ll be telling to see who earns a look with the big club.
Speaking of Labanc, Boughner acknowledged that he hasn’t been floored with either his or Timo Meier’s response after both were called out on Apr. 17.
Boughner, on demoting Labanc/Meier: "They were both horrible in the first period. They didn't deserve to play in the top-six. Or in the top-nine."
— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) April 18, 2021
“[They’ve been] just okay. I’m just asking them to be more complete. No one’s perfect, they’re both going to make mistakes like everybody else. But clean up their play without the puck,” Boughner said. “I want those guys to use their creativity, I want them to use their offense. I very rarely get on them about how they’re playing with the puck, it’s without the puck.”
This sounds like a repeat, a conversation that we had last year. It’s certainly troubling: Neither Labanc nor Meier have taken much of a step forward this season, and you can argue that Meier has taken a step back.
But there’s still time for both – assuming Labanc’s upper-body injury is day-to-day, as Boughner said – to demonstrate that they’re more than two disappointing cogs on a team mired in an eight-game losing streak.
“You find out a lot about people during times like these,” the San Jose Sharks bench boss said. “Hopefully, it tests guys and they come out of it and show their true colors. And the guys that don’t, just won’t be here next year. It’s pretty simple.”
Around the NHL
— Christina Marleau (@c_marleau) April 26, 2021
29-year-old Andrew Shaw announced his retirement today because of concussions.
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