Time: 7:00 pm Eastern Time
Location: Amalie Arena
Opponent SBNation Site: Fear the Fin
Based purely on stats, San Jose looks like one of the best teams in the league. They are strong in almost every area that should be an indicator of results at 5v5. Unfortunately for them, they’ve had terrible shooting luck. Their goaltending has also been rough but has improved in the last ten games. While they don’t have a ton of shooting talent, they should be scoring more goals than this and they seem due for a correction at some point.
The Lightning continue to look decent but not great and heavily dependent on their own finishing to separate themselves. Last time against San Jose, the Bolts played one of their best games of the season considering the competition. Given their recent run of poor play including their loss to Boston on Wednesday, a repeat of how this matchup went the first time would be a welcome reassurance that the beginning of the season wasn’t fluke.
Five Questions with Sie Morley, Managing Editor of Fear the Fin
Raw Charge: Brent Burns’ start last year was pretty scorching on his way to the Norris Trophy, but he seems to be off his point pace so far this season. What’s going on with him? Is there something nagging him?
Sie Morley: I think “off his point pace” is the nicest possible way you could say that he’s playing like wet garbage. The bottom line is that The Brent Burns Shot From The Point™ is too predictable now. Other teams have figured him out and he hasn’t found a new way to score. Sure, he won the Norris, but more than halfway through last year, he was on pace for the Art Ross and the Hart. His performance took a sharp nosedive and he was out of the scoring race. This isn’t the first slump he’s been in.
RC: How much are the Sharks missing Patrick Marleau’s offense up front this season?
SM: Well, they can’t seem to score and Marleau is having far too much success in Toronto for Sharks fans to feel good about it.
RC: Between Martin Jones and Aaron Dell, the Sharks might have the best performing goaltending tandem in the NHL so far. What do you think is driving their success this season?
SM: They’re not afraid to play Aaron Dell more this year and I think that’s going to be critical for Martin Jones’ success. The year the Sharks went to the Stanley Cup Final, Jones played nearly every game until James Reimer was acquired at the trade deadline. It was an exhausting year for him and I think it showed in his follow up year.
Dell is a guy who has worked his way up through the system, playing in college, then significant time in the ECHL and the AHL. He’s fought his way to this position. For both of these guys, the mental part of their game, their ability to go into the crease fresh every single night, is unmatched.
RC: Timo Meier has the pedigree as a 9th overall pick and was an offensive talent in the QMJHL. His sub 5% shooting percentage this year in the NHL doesn’t seem to jive with his skills though. What will it take for Meier to take the next step in the NHL?
SM: Timo Meier is one of those players you have to adapt your system around. Unfortunately, under Pete DeBoer, that wiggle room isn’t there. So he’s seeing bottom six minutes with bottom six linemates in a system that puts an emphasis on everyone being a two-way player and he can’t get it right. He’s absolutely an NHL caliber player, but his chances to succeed the way he knows how to are limited.
RC: It’s Star Wars night in Amalie Arena tonight, so I can’t leave without some fun stuff. Below are the names of some Star Wars characters and I’d like you to pick a player from the Sharks or the NHL that represents each character for you.
Obi-Wan Kenobi: That’s gotta be Joe Thornton.
Luke Skywalker: Tomas Hertl, our young padawan.
Emperor Palpatine: Gary Bettman, obviously.
Mace Windu: Marc Edouard Vlasic, based purely on his Olympic tweets and good dog content, saving us from the Good Ol Boy culture of the NHL.
Finn: Kevin Labanc. He’s just trying his best to be good!
Chewbacca: ….c’mon now. Brent “Wookie” Burns.
Tampa Bay Lightning
#Bolts morning skate lines:— Bryan Burns (@BBurnsNHL) December 2, 2017
Ryan Callahan is on the ice for morning skate along with yesterday’s callup Cory Conacher. Coburn and Dotchin are not. #Bolts— Bryan Burns (@BBurnsNHL) December 2, 2017
#Bolts morning skate D-pairings:— Bryan Burns (@BBurnsNHL) December 2, 2017
San Jose Sharks
If you can decipher it, these are yesterday’s lines from Sharks @ Cats: