With the fast-approaching end to the regular season and another year out of the playoffs, the San Jose Sharks have been under some stress. An 82-game season means that the team spends a lot of time together on the ice and off of it, and recently, the Sharks have been spending their time away from the rink by exploring a new team bonding activity…escape rooms.
According to Rudolfs Balcers, the team has really been enjoying their new-found hobby.
“[We] talked about [escape rooms] starting the year and then just did it once or twice, and it just kind of started being fun,” Balcers shared. “There’s not a lot other stuff to do on the road, so it kills some time.”
They’ve also been succeeding at it. Balcers, Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl, and Nick Bonino have apparently been the escape room mainstays, with Brent Burns, Jake Middleton, and Jaycob Megna taking turns as the fifth man.
“There haven’t been many times we haven’t got out,” Balcers reported. “We’re pretty professional about it.”
However, their last escape room in Edmonton last week didn’t go as planned. Hertl has been blamed, but Balcers has another theory as to why the Sharks were doomed from the start.
“Tommy was fine,” Balcers said, laughing. “[But] Bonino didn’t show up, he ditched on the squad, and that’s a big mistake there. You know, the boys have been giving it to him, but yeah, it was [also] just a bad room.”
And, without Middleton, dealt to Minnesota at the Trade Deadline, that means Jaycob Megna had to step in. As far as escape room partners go, Balcers seemed impressed.
“Yeah, I thought he did pretty good. I mean, we’ll see – we’ve got some more coming up.”
In fact, the Sharks left San Jose for Arizona on Tuesday afternoon…and had an escape room planned for when they landed.
Did Bonino show up? Can Megna truly replace the undefeated Middleton?
We’ll see if the San Jose Sharks can come out of the desert with more than one win.
UPDATE: One win down!
Hertl reports that they finished yesterday's escape room in Arizona with 27 minutes to go! Bonino showed up yesterday
— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) March 30, 2022
Actually, two. Hertl shared that they were able to play two escape rooms yesterday, and they got out of both. He estimates a 12-2 record this season with a couple more to go this season.
He added that Megna was in on both wins, so it looks like a new escape room squad has been established.
“It’s a pretty good start,” Hertl said. “So we have to just keep going forward.”
Where to Bet & Watch
According to upcoming NHL game odds, the San Jose Sharks are about -150 favorites to beat the Arizona Coyotes.
Puck drop between the Arizona Coyotes and San Jose Sharks is at 7:00 PM PT/10:00 PM ET at the Gila River Arena. Watch it live on ESPN+, Bally Sports Arizona, and NBC Sports California. Listen to it on the Sharks Audio Network.
San Jose Sharks (29-28-8)
The San Jose Sharks are slowly moving their way up the Pacific Division, and with now three teams officially eliminated from playoff contention (Montreal Canadiens, Arizona Coyotes, Philadelphia Flyers), it’s crunch-time for a team that still hopes to grab a spot in the post-season.
These are how lines have shaken out at the most recent Sharks practices — Bob Boughner didn’t mention any changes before morning skate, so look for the top four lines here tonight:
Ferraro, Nieto, Pederson, Megna on the ice this morning for #SJSharks practice:
Hertl w/ Meier, Barabanov
Couture w/ Gregor, Balcers
Bonino w/ Leonard, Chmelevski
Pederson w/ Viel, Reedy
Nieto w/ Dahlen, Labanc (in extra orange)
— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) March 29, 2022
Jaycob Megna will skate with Brent Burns, Erik Karlsson will be playing his off-side with Nicolas Meloche, and birthday boy Marc-Edouard Vlasic will pair with Ryan Merkley.
Head coach Bob Boughner said yesterday that James Reimer will start against Arizona, while Kaapo Kahkonen will take the next day’s contest at Colorado.
Arizona Coyotes (20-41-5)
The Coyotes are cruising to the end of the regular season, but they could still put up a fight.
Per the Daily Faceoff, this is how the Coyotes’ lines may stack up against the Sharks.
Keller – Boyd – Schmaltz
Crouse – Galchenyuk – Kessel
Ritchie – Jenik – Eriksson
Maccelli – Hayton – Carcone
Gostisbehere – Mayo
Dineen – Stralman
Capobianco – Kolyachonok
Karel Vejmelka will start in goal for the Coyotes against the San Jose Sharks at Gila River Arena tonight.
That's 4 games in 6 days in 4 cities and 3 different time zones for Vejmelka.
— Craig Morgan (@CraigSMorgan) March 30, 2022
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