SHARKS (12-10-6…30 pts 8th in WC) at OILERS (11-11-6…28 pts 12th in WC)
When: Wednesday Night at 6:30pm PDT/7:30pm MDT (Edmonton)
Where: Rexall Place in Edmonton, AB
TV: CSN California (Northern California & Nevada); TSN (Canada)
Radio: Sharks Radio Network (98.5FM/102.1FM K-FOX) Bay Area; 630AM CHED in Edmonton
With their season seemingly starting to slip away, the San Jose Sharks try to find answers to solve a major team slump in their third game of a five game road trip against the Oilers in Edmonton. The Sharks are coming off of a 5-3 loss to the arch rival Anaheim Ducks as the Sharks found themselves to be their own worst enemy in a game that witnessed both tactical errors and careless play overall. The Sharks are going up against a team in the Edmonton Oilers which has one of the youngest rosters in the NHL, if not the youngest. The Oilers feature a lot of young guns such as Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Justin Schultz, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Nail Yakupov who have shown that at their ages they are already on their way to becoming NHL bonafide stars. The team is still in a growth phase but looks to be a season away from a break out year.
The Sharks meanwhile are only clinging to an 8th seed in the Western Conference thanks in large part to winning their first seven games of this lockout shortened season. If not the that hot start the Sharks would have been out of the playoff race by the end of February. As of now, they will be hard pressed to remain in playoff position as the teams fortunes seemingly just grow worse by the day. Patrick Marleau, Logan Couture, Antii Niemi have been the main bright spots for the Sharks this season. However it is becoming apparent that this incarnation of the Sharks simply no longer has the jets to be a serious contender for the Stanley Cup this season. Much talk of what the Sharks are going to do at the trade deadline remains up in the air, however if the Sharks continue at their current pace (having dropped 16 of their last 21 games overall), team teal would likely be sellers for the first time in a long time. Things are just not looking up for team teal these days and their is no other way you can really say it. The Sharks will have to dig deep from within themselves as wins have become an extremely rare commodity.
For more on Wednesday Night’s match up here’s NHL.com’s Tal Pinchevsky (NHL.com Staff Writer) with his take on this game**:
Season series: This is the third and final meeting this season between these teams, with San Jose having won the first two, including a 3-2 shootout victory at HP Pavilion on Jan. 31. Logan Couture has feasted on the Oilers in his career, with seven goals in his last nine games against Edmonton.
Big story: The Oilers are hoping to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2006, while San Jose has been a perennial playoff contender. But with the Sharks having lost six of their last seven and the Oilers posting a 3-0-1 record in their last four, these clubs appear to be going in opposite directions as the playoff push approaches.
Sharks: Since starting the season 7-0-0, San Jose has gone 5-10-6 and is now in very real danger of missing the postseason for the first time in a decade. The Sharks were tied for eighth in the Western Conference with Phoenix heading into Tuesday’s action after struggling through two games in Southern California to kick off a five-game road trip.
After a 5-2 loss to the Kings at Staples Center on Saturday, the Sharks visited the Ducks at Honda Center on Monday. In a closely-contested opening period against Anaheim, Jason Demers scored his first goal of the season to even the score 1-1 late in the first. But Anaheim exploded in the middle frame, beating Antti Niemi three times in under three minutes to take a commanding 4-1 lead. San Jose made it interesting in the third, outshooting the Ducks 16-6 and pulling to within 4-3 on Matt Irwin‘s goal. But an empty-netter from Francois Beauchemin (his second goal of the night) sealed the 5-3 Ducks win.
“Effort was better, results are the same,” coach Todd McLellan said. “I thought we took a tight-checking game and turned it into a track meet, and that certainly doesn’t favor us.”
Oilers: A 3-4-2 record in their recent marathon nine-game road trip showed flashes of hope for the young Oilers, who ended the trip with wins in Chicago and Colorado. They returned home Friday against Detroit, dropping a 3-2 overtime contest before facing off Sunday against the Predators, a team that walloped them 6-0 in Nashville just nine days earlier.
Magnus Paajarvi opened the scoring in the second before Shea Weber replied for the Predators eight minutes later. But the game turned in the final period shortly after Justin Schultz was whistled for delay of game after flipping the puck over the glass. With the Oilers down a man, Sam Gagner raced past Sergei Kostitsyn, whose sudden return to the Predators bench allowed Lennart Petrell to join the rush and eventually notch a shorthanded goal that gave Edmonton the lead. Jordan Eberle scored the eventual game-winner five minutes later as the Oilers held on for a big 3-2 victory.
Who’s hot: For the Sharks, Irwin has goals in three consecutive games while Patrick Marleau has five points over his current five-game point streak. Brent Burns has six points in four games since returning from injury and being moved to forward. … Taylor Hall and Gagner are leading Edmonton’s offensive charge with seven and six points, respectively, in the last four games.
Injury report: Goaltender Thomas Greiss (neck) and forward Tim Kennedy (undisclosed) are on injured reserve for the Sharks while Ryane Clowe is doubtful for the game with a shoulder injury. … Edmonton is missing forward Eric Belanger (groin) and defenseman Andy Sutton (knee).
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