WELCOME GUEST WRITER LIZZ CHILD! LIZZ COVERS THE WHL FOR THE DUBNETWORK AND AREA 51 SPORTS.
One game into his return, Alexander Barabanov had a reason to celebrate on his own.
Between making a noticeable impact on the ice along with the birth of his first child Vera just two nights before Thursday’s game in Seattle, Barabanov has already had a week to remember. Now, he’s looking to add to it in Saturday night’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
For Barabanov, the timing for his return could not have worked out better. Entering COVID protocol on Jan. 12, he exited protocol on Jan. 18, and was able to be in the hospital where he and his wife Valeriia welcomed their daughter. And despite a 3-2 loss to the Seattle Kraken, Barabanov notched the lone assist on Tomas Hertl’s goal 38 seconds into the game.
This isn’t a one-game thing for Barabanov either, who’s emerged as a true top-six forward for the San Jose Sharks.
“His puck possession is very, very strong. He makes plays in traffic and doesn’t panic. I’d say he’s more of a distributor or passer than he is a shooter,” said Boughner about Barabanov’s style of play. “He sees the game through an offensive mindset.”
Boughner also mentioned that the second power play unit in Seattle was run through Barabanov. That’s a mark of the head coach’s increased trust in the 27-year-old winger, who’s totaled 28 points in 42 games as a member of the San Jose Sharks.
“Because of his patience, he helped us last year at the end of the year on the power play,” Boughner noted. “He’s almost a guy you can put on any line. Whether you put him with Hertl or Cooch, he can get a line going. He’s a little bit of an engine because of his offensive instincts.”
Can Barabanov provide a spark to get the Logan Couture line tonight? The Russian winger will get a chance today, as he and Jonathan Dahlen flip-flop places up front.
If Barabanov can get another line going, the Sharks will be reaping the benefits come playoffs.
San Jose Sharks (21-18-2)
Still looking for scoring outside of Timo Meier and Tomas Hertl, the Sharks look to bounce back after a 3-2 loss in Seattle on Thursday night.
The absence of Erik Karlsson won’t help the Sharks’ scoring cause — he’s being evaluated today, we’ll find out perhaps tomorrow how long he’s out.
Boughner indicates that Karlsson's new upper-body injury holding him out tonight is unrelated to Karlsson's oblique strain injury a couple weeks ago — so separate upper-body injuries for Karlsson
— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) January 22, 2022
Erik Karlsson is out for tonight and considered day to day.
James Reimer is in net. pic.twitter.com/P33vM4oyUC
— The Content Boyz (@LockedOnSharks) January 22, 2022
📍: Detroit, MI pic.twitter.com/ALFyXsykqU
— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) January 3, 2022
Tampa Bay Lightning (27-10-5)
The Lightning are finishing their California road trip on Saturday night, coming off a 5-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Friday. They will be out to finish the trip on a high note.
Lightning projected lineup as of Friday, per NHL.com:
Perry – Point – Kucherov
Killorn – Cirelli – Stamkos
Maroon – Bellemare – Joseph
Katchouk – Colton – Raddysh
Hedman – Foote
McDonagh – Sergachev
Claesson – Sustr
Vasilevskiy did start on Friday night in Anaheim.
WHERE TO WATCH
Puck drop between the Tampa Bay Lightning and San Jose Sharks is at 7:30 PM PT at SAP Center. Watch it live on Bally Sports Sun and NBC Sports California. Listen to it on the Sharks Audio Network.
Sheng’s Travel Fund
Help fund Sheng's travel! Every dollar goes to the cost of getting to and from Sharks road games.