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Game Preview/Lines #33: Hertl Standing Up for His Teammates

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San Jose Sharks (13-15-4)

Bob Boughner said there were a few health question marks for the San Jose Sharks this morning.

Right now, the only confirmed change is Devan Dubnyk coming in for Martin Jones. I also asked Timo Meier if he knew who he was lining up with tonight – Meier moved down with Gambrell last night – but he said he didn’t know. Boughner also noted yesterday morning that Matt Nieto was a possibility tonight, though not likely.

Pure guess: After Nick Schmaltz boarded Radim Simek last night, there was renewed talk about the San Jose Sharks needing to add some physicality. So I’d guess Kurtis Gabriel slides in for Antti Suomela. Boughner sounded tentative about Simek coming back tonight – Boughner said Simek would go out and skate this afternoon to “try it out” – in that case, Boughner did say that he wanted to see Christian Jaros in action. Jaros is also a right-hander, so it could be a smoother transition to pair with lefty Marc-Edouard Vlasic, as opposed to left-hander Fredrik Claesson.

So will we see these lines?

Kane-Couture-Labanc

Marleau-Hertl-Meier

Balcers-Gambrell-Sorensen

Leonard-Donato-Gabriel

Ferraro-Burns

Knyzhov-Karlsson

Vlasic-Jaros

Dubnyk

It wouldn’t surprise me if there are more shake-ups beyond this – the San Jose Sharks were clearly lacking on 5-on-5 offense last night. Obviously, adding Gabriel won’t be a big help there, but elevating Balcers could be.

This is San Jose Sharks Twitter’s guess:

Arizona Coyotes (15-14-5)

This was how the Coyotes lined up last night:

They did not have morning availability, so their line-up is unclear. Jakob Chychrun is “50/50,” per Craig Morgan.

Where to Watch

Puck drop is 7 PM PT at Gila River Arena. Watch it on Fox Sports Arizona and NBC Sports Bay Area or NHL.tv.

Morning Skate

Nick Schmaltz was fined $5,000 for this hit on Radim Simek last night.

“I didn’t like the hit. I’m glad the league stepped up there,” San Jose Sharks head coach Bob Boughner volunteered. “It was more of a push when a guy’s in a vulnerable position. Now we have a player today who may not play tonight, pretty stiff after that. I think that’s a dangerous, dangerous play.”

Simek left the game and didn’t return. His status tonight is questionable.

“We’re thankful that Simmer is okay,” Mario Ferraro said. “We gotta be harder on these guys and let them know we’re there, they can’t be doing stuff like that or get away with it.”

Shades of Jonathan Marchessault cross-checking Simek last month? The lack of San Jose response to that extracurricular drew Boughner’s ire then.

Boughner wasn’t as incensed this time around: “It’s easy to say after the fact. We’ve talked about that as an organization as a team before and you know, we’ve addressed or done a good job.”

One interesting trend to emerge from all this? A more demonstrative Tomas Hertl.

Hertl was on the ice when Marchessault cross-checked Simek in February. To his chagrin, he didn’t step up then, but he’s made up for it since, getting into his first career NHL fight against Mark Stone in Las Vegas a couple weeks ago. This was in response to Stone hitting Timo Meier a little high.

This wasn’t quite Hertl-Stone, but when Dryden Hunt (28) took an extra shot at Marcus Sorensen (20), Hertl (48) was right there.

Hertl got sent to the box for roughing, a punishment that he’s happy to take down three goals with just five minutes left.

“We should be the guys hitting,” Hertl said post-game about sending a message to the Coyotes. “Show them at least we’re coming tomorrow.”

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