The West Side Story Returns as the San Jose Sharks take on the Winnipeg Jets

Jan 4, 2024; San Jose, California, USA; San Jose Sharks center Ryan Carpenter (22) collides into
Jan 4, 2024; San Jose, California, USA; San Jose Sharks center Ryan Carpenter (22) collides into / Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

For those of you that are too young to remember West Side Story, this will not make a lot of sense for you. But, this is the return to play after the bye week and the all-star game for the San Jose Sharks. Heating up before the deadline, the Sharks are no longer sitting plum last in the NHL, currently above the Chicago Blackhawks. Now, it is time to knock the rust off and get going as we get into the crunch time between the all-star game and the trade deadline.

It's so nice to have Sharks hockey back, and we have a ton of injury updates. Mikael Granlund will be available tonight as will Mario Ferraro who both return from a prolonged spell on the sidelines with injuries. Adding the best defenseman on the team and the second highest scoring forward back into the fold, it's always a good sign. Henry Thrun could possibly be back too, but he's still up in the air ahead of tonight.

Now, the problem is the two major absentees. Tomas Hertl is out indefinitely after having surgery on his left knee to clear up some loose cartilage. That's a problem as the teams highest producer is out for the foreseeable future. Now, if he was the only one, you might be able to live with it, but Logan Couture also suffered a setback with his groin injury and is out week-to-week. Brutal injury news seeing the two most talented players on the roster now missing.

Projected Lineups

San Jose Sharks

Anthony Duclair - Mikael Granlund - Fabian Zetterlind
Alexander Barabanov - William Eklund - Luke Kunin
Jacob MacDonald - Nico Sturm - Mike Hoffman
Filip Zadina - Ryan Carpenter - Justin Bailey
Marc - Edouard Vlasic - Ty Emberson
Kyle Burroughs - Calen Addison
Mario Ferraro - Jan Rutta
Kaapo Kahkonen
Mackenzie Blackwood

Winnipeg Jets

Kyle Connor - Mark Scheifele - Nikolaj Ehlers
Cole Perfetti - Sean Monahan - Gabriel Vilardi
Nino Niederreiter - Adam Lowry - Mason Appleton
Morgan Barron - Vladislav Namestnikov - Alex Iafallo
Josh Morrissey - Dylan DeMelo
Dylan Samberg - Neal Pionk
Logan Stanley - Nate Schmidt
Connor Hellebuyck
Laurent Brossoit

Puck Drop

This will be a 4:30 puck drop from Winnipeg, as we all look to see if the Sharks can get some of their pending unrestricted free agents are able to increase their value enough to move the needle as to what the return will be as the team is open for business at this deadline. Just scoring a few tonight will be a good sign for Mike Grier's negotiations at the deadline as we get closer to the time when everyone gets dealt.