The San Jose Sharks are coming off a 4 – 1 home victory against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night. They face off with another eastern conference foe tonight- the Pittsburgh Penguins. Expect Team Teal to be tested in this 2016 Stanley Cup rematch at the SAP Center.
Tonight’s match up features two of the hottest teams in the entire NHL. The Pittsburgh Penguins are 8 -2 in their previous 10. However, in their last game, they put together a lackluster effort in a 5 – 2 loss to the LA Kings. On the second game of a back to back, they looked exhausted and were out-skated by a desperate Kings team who needed a statement win badly.
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Prior to Saturday night’s loss, the Pens were playing their best hockey of the season. Since the beginning of December, Pittsburgh has been the most dangerous team in the league at 5v5. They lead the league individual HDCF, in GF%, and SV% at that style of play. The San Jose Sharks are going to have a tough time slowing down the Penguins’ potent offense.
The center tandem of Crosby/Malkin are usually who comes to mind when you think of the Penguins stars. However the Pens are loaded with game breaking NHL talent up and down their lineup. They even sport a Norris Trophy caliber defender on their blue line similar to the Sharks. Kris Letang is playing the best hockey of his 13 year career. He comes into Tuesday night clocking an average of 26 minutes per night and has tallied 10 goals with 38 points total. When Letang is on the ice, the Penguins are likely to score with him firing 136 shots on net and a 59.85 GF%.
In addition to the stellar play from Letang, the Penguins are getting significant contributions from some of their younger stars. Jake Guentzel has been extremely effective lately. He heads into tonight riding a 6 game point streak compiling 10 points total over that span. He recently signed a 5 year 6 mil AAV contract on Dec 27 and has thanked the Pens by scoring 8 goals since the big payday. Guentzel’s heading into tonight’s game expecting similar results; watch for him and Letang to perpetuate their strong play against the stingy Team Teal defense.
Who’s in for Team Teal?
Before we get into the logistics surrounding tonight’s match up it’s important to point out that this evenings game is the 1,000th in teal for Joe Thornton. He’s been the heart and soul of the team ever since he was acquired from Boston on November 30th, 2005. During his tenure in San Jose he’s compiled a total of 994 points with 237 of them being goals. Anticipate a huge ovation for Jumbo prior to puck drop.
The San Jose Sharks just had a few days of much needed rest over the early portion of this week. While it seems that they’ll still be without their shutdown defender Marc-Edouard Vlasic, forward Joonas Donskoi seems “Ok” enough to dress tonight. Mercury New’s Paul Gackle was at practice this morning and gave us some insight into what the Sharks might look like this evening versus Pittsburgh.
He also gave us a glimpse into who might be between the pipes for Team Teal and to no one’s surprise Coach Pete DeBoer is going with his starter Martin Jones.
Jones has been playing extremely well recently with a .955 SV% over his previous 3 contests. He has bounced back from his dim start with some extremely timely saves over the San Jose Sharks hot stretch of games.
The San Jose Sharks are hoping to extend their spectacular play of late. They’ve put themselves back into the discussion as best in the Western Conference. This being said, Team Teal definitely has their hands full with this Penguins team looking to bounce back from a frustrating loss.
Puck drop is 7:00 pm at SAP Center. The game will be broadcasted by NBCSCA and streamed through the Sharks offical app via 98.5 KFOX.
All statistics in this post were provided by naturalstattrick.com unless stated otherwise.