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Preview/Lines #32: Blackwood, Kahkonen Have No Problem With Alternating Starts



Credit: Hockey Shots/Dean Tait

Dueling goalies?

The way that Mackenzie Blackwood and Kaapo Kahkonen get along, not in the San Jose Sharks locker room.

Blackwood and Kahkonen, at separate times, both echoed each other when I asked them about head coach David Quinn alternating them over the last month.

Since Nov. 16, except on one occasion, Blackwood and Kahkonen have alternated starts.

Kahkonen has sparkled with a 5-2-1 record and a .914 Save %, reeling off four straight wins in this stretch.

Blackwood hasn’t been quite as sharp with a 2-4-1 record and .895 Save %, but he’s had outstanding performances too, especially 30-plus saves in 2-1 victories over the Washington Capitals and Winnipeg Jets.

Blackwood was also voted by the fans, deservingly, as San Jose Sharks’ Player of the Month in October and November.

“Their play dictates who’s gonna play. They’ve both played well, and they both deserve to play,” Quinn said on Saturday.

Neither Blackwood nor Kahkonen had any issue with this approach today. Kahkonen will get the Los Angeles Kings tonight, after Blackwood took on the Colorado Avalanche in San Jose’s last game.

“At this level, you play when you’re told to play,” Kahkonen shrugged.

“We’re an employee,” Blackwood shrugged.

Quinn noted: “We play enough hockey that they’re gonna get games every three-to-five days.”

“Splitting games, at least both guys are in rhythm,” Kahkonen said.

“It’s good for us to stay fresh and push each other,” Blackwood said.

Naturally, both Blackwood and Kahkonen are hungry to be the No. 1 guy.

“I’m sure they both would like it,” Quinn said.

They wouldn’t have made the NHL without the desire to be the best.

“Everybody wants to play every game, right?” Kahkonen said. “That’s what we’re all here for.”

“Obviously,” Blackwood said, “you want to play as much as you can.”

But also?

“We’re supporting each other,” Kahkonen said. “We get along really well.”

“It’s been good for both of us,” Blackwood said.

Blackwood did note, breaking the goalie hive mind, this advantage of alternating starts.

“The biggest difference is just those games where you’re not playing, you could take the morning skate and do a little bit extra or get a little extra work in the gym,” he said. “It just helps you work on things that you wouldn’t maybe have time or energy for, playing a lot of starts.”

I have no doubt, if I asked Kahkonen that question, he would’ve said the same thing!

San Jose Sharks (9-19-3)

Kahkonen will start.

Defensemen Calen Addison and Jan Rutta are game-time decisions. The forwards appear set:

Los Angeles Kings (17-6-4)

Where to Watch

Puck drop between the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings is 7:30 PM PT at SAP Center. Watch it live on ESPN+/Hulu. Listen to it on the Sharks Audio Network.

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