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Game Preview/Lines #15: Karlsson Has Another Groin Injury, Sharks on How They’ll Counter This Blues’ Strength



Credit: Creativity+ Timothy K Hamilton (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

On the road again! The San Jose Sharks go down the highway without Erik Karlsson.

Bob Boughner talked about Karlsson leaving practice early yesterday and his absence from this road trip. He also touched on how to counter this subtle St. Louis Blues strength.

Karlsson Leaves Sharks Practice Early; Strikes Defiant Tone About PK Usage

Evander Kane, no stranger to standing up for his teammates, gets candid about the team’s disappointing response to Jonathan Marchessault running Radim Simek on Saturday. And Nikolai Knyzhov tells us what he was working on with Mike Ricci at practice a couple days ago.

San Jose Sharks (6-7-1)

St. Louis Blues (9-5-2)

Where to Watch

Puck drop is 5 PM PT at Enterprise Center. Watch it on NBC Sports Bay Area, FOX Sports Midwest, or

Morning Skate

Bob Boughner shared more about Erik Karlsson’s ill-fated turn at San Jose Sharks practice yesterday, saying Karlsson left after the second drill.

“He didn’t feel near as good as he thought, we thought. It’s an injury that you can play through, but it’s just going to get worse,” Boughner said. “We’re trying to do the smart thing and right thing.”

Will this be a lingering issue with Karlsson this year?

“I don’t think so. We’ve had tests and MRIs,” Boughner offered. “It’s more of a day-to-day thing at this point of time. Hopefully, we’ll have him back sooner than later.”

The San Jose Sharks revealed later that Karlsson is indeed suffering from another groin injury:

Karlsson did not make this road trip. San Jose hopes to have him back for the Feb. 22 tilt vs. Minnesota.

Speaking of someone who will soak up some of Karlsson’s minutes, Nikolai Knyzhov was working after morning skate a couple days ago, before the Anaheim contest, with NHL Skills Development coach Mike Ricci. Knyzhov was taking passes from Ricci and firing point shots.

The rookie elaborated: “We were just working on receiving the puck on the blueline. Depending on how good the pass is, where the opponent is coming from, what angle to take. Little details.”

This might be a good example of learning from a mistake. On Saturday, in the third period of a one-goal game, Knyzhov had the puck in the offensive zone, and he was shuffling his feet to a more dangerous area in the middle of the ice. But Jonathan Marchessault pursued him aggressively and it looked like Knyzhov flubbed the puck. Marchessault was off to the races, Knyzhov took a penalty, and the Golden Knights made it 3-1 on the ensuing power play.

Speaking of Vegas and Marchessault, Evander Kane, no stranger to standing up for his teammates, talked about Marchessault’s runs at Simek.

Kane echoed Boughner’s statements yesterday.

“I said this in my meeting. This’ll be the last time I’ll have to talk about it,” Boughner said. “I think they understand what my expectations are, the culture we’re trying to create. I believe we have a lot of guys in there who care for each other. Hopefully, that’s the end of that conversation.”

Tomas Hertl, who was on the ice when Simek got hurt, said he didn’t realize the severity of the initial hits. He was more worried about a potential knee injury to his friend and countryman. Simek, of course, has had well-documented knee troubles over the last two years.

We’ll see if there’s more fight in this group going forward.

SPORTLOGiQ Pre-Game Stat of the Night

The Blues lead the NHL, per SPORTLOGiQ in Even Strength % of Shots on Net That Are Screened. Essentially, they do a great job of getting a lot of traffic in front of the opposing net.

The San Jose Sharks will have their work cut out for them, in terms of boxing out the big, quick St. Louis forwards in front of Martin Jones. Boughner said the team worked on countering this Blues’ strength at practice yesterday – he also reminded them in today’s morning meeting.

So what do the San Jose defensemen need to do in front of Martin Jones to wall off the St. Louis forwards?

“It’s boxing out before they get to the net. Not getting beat back to the net, number one. Obviously, it’s great to be on the inside. You also have to have control of the stick. Sometimes, if you’re boxing out, you got two hands on your stick, and you have your stick above his waist, he can still tip, he can still get rebounds,” Boughner, the former NHL defenseman, offered. “For me, it’s being inside, being underneath sticks, controlling their sticks, realizing the box-out happens even before the play. You don’t want to be in front of your own goalie. You want to try to push him off to the side where your goalie has sight of the puck.”

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