The San Jose Sharks are 0-6-1 in their last seven games – and they’re still just four points behind fourth-place Arizona for the West’s final playoff spot. The Coyotes are in Los Angeles tonight, while fifth-place St. Louis hosts Colorado. Meanwhile, Minnesota can clinch a playoff berth if they beat San Jose tonight.
San Jose Sharks (18-23-5)
Per Boughner & yesterday's practice, here's my guess at tonight's #SJSharks lines:
— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) April 24, 2021
Minnesota Wild (30-13-3)
Jordan Greenway — Joel Eriksson Ek — Marcus Foligno
Kirill Kaprizov — Victor Rask — Mats Zuccarello
Kevin Fiala — Ryan Hartman — Marcus Johansson
Zach Parise — Nico Sturm — Nick Bonino
Ryan Suter — Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin — Matt Dumba
Carson Soucy — Ian Cole
Where to Watch
Puck drop is 6 PM PT at SAP Center. Watch it on NBC Sports Bay Area, Bally Sports North, or NHL.tv.
The San Jose Sharks’ power play will finally get a big shake-up tonight, as Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson will be back together on the same unit.
I’ve been a proponent of giving each blueliner their own unit, and the Sharks have, as they’ve used Karlsson and Burns separately for the most part since Karlsson’s return from a groin injury on Feb. 27.
But the results have been unremarkable, to say the least: Since Feb. 27, San Jose is 24th in the NHL with a 15.4 PP success rate %. Not to say the power play was humming before that – prior to Feb. 27, when Burns and Karlsson were mostly used together on the PP, the Sharks were 24th in the league with a 15.7 %.
So are we just moving deck chairs on the Titanic?
“Earlier in the season, you had Erik up top and Burnzie on the flank. And today, we practice having Burnzie up top for the shot threat. We’ve had trouble getting shots through,” Boughner said yesterday, speaking specifically of the Vegas series. “The flanker is the most important piece of the puzzle and Karly has that ability to make some plays there and see the ice a little differently than some of the other guys.”
The underlying numbers suggest that the San Jose Sharks should be enjoying more success at 5-on-4: Since Feb. 27, according to Natural Stat Trick’s Per 60 figures, they’re ninth in the league in Corsi For (98.49), 11th in Scoring Chances For (50.17) and 10th in Expected Goals (6.65). Speaking to Boughner’s point though, San Jose is 17th in Shots Per 60 (49.71).
But puck don’t lie: San Jose is 27th in the NHL on the man advantage. One thing: They seem to be getting enough traffic. Per SPORTLOGiQ, the Sharks are second in the league in Power Play Screened Shots on Net Per 60.
“At this point, to be honest with you, we’ve tried a lot of different looks. Some of them better than others, but we need to find a way to get on the board tomorrow,” an exasperated Boughner offered. “You got your two most skilled defensemen out there. And at some point, we have five, they have four, and you need to figure it out, you need to figure out how to generate scoring chances.”
Around the NHL
How long will leading Coyotes scorer Conor Garland be out? Per the Arizona Republic, it’s a week-to-week knee injury. That’s a serious blow to Arizona’s post-season chances, for sure.
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