Time: 10:30 pm Eastern Time
Location: SAP Cente
Broadcast/Streaming: ESPN+, BSSUN, NBSSCA
Opponent SBNation Site: Fear the Fin
The Tampa Bay Lightning are finishing their trip to California with a game against the San Jose Sharks. Unfortunately they won’t return home with a perfect record, as the Bolts lost yesterday’s match-up with the Anaheim Ducks after winning the first game against the Los Angeles Kings. The Lightning, however, remain at the second place in both Atlantic Division and the whole NHL.
No big changes are expected in the injury department. Both Erik Cernak and Jan Rutta are still dealing with their injuries and were replaced yesterday by Andrej Sustr and Fredrik Claesson. Ondrej Palat wasn’t also ready for yesterday’s game, although initially he was expected to return prior to the California trip. Zach Bogosian has been on injured reserve for the past week and will be unavailable for couple of weeks more. The only expected change is Brian Elliott, who will replace Andrei Vasilevskiy in net after he played last night in Anaheim.
Despite losing yesterday’s game by quite a big margin and having some serious injury-related issues on their blueline, the Lightning are feeling quiet confident recently. Since the start of the 2022, they are 6-3-0, losing all three games to playoff teams. With the return of Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point, the team has become more diverse offensively, scoring 3.67 goals per game over that span. Their power play productivity also jumped to 22.6 PP%, which is a slight improvement over their 18.5 PP% before Kucherov’s return.
As with the other Californian teams, the San Jose Sharks have improved in comparison from previous seasons. They’re currently fourth in the Pacific Division and still have a theoretical chance to make the playoffs. Although a very strong Central Division basically leaves them three postseason spots and the Calgary Flames, which are just two points behind the Sharks despite playing six less games, will be a very tough opponent.
One of the biggest weaknesses this season is the Sharks’ lack of offensive depth. They have a pretty strong first line with Timo Meier and Tomas Hertl leading the team in points. Just a couple of games before Meier had probably his best game in the NHL career, scoring five goals against the Kings. Their bottom-six, however, haven’t been producing enough to support the team, when their top lines are struggling.
One of the positives for the Sharks this season is Erik Karlsson, who returned to his form after couple of mediocre seasons with the team. He has currently 26 (8+18) points in 33 games, playing around 23 minutes per game.
Overall the Sharks have a mediocre power play, producing just 17.76 PP%, but this is partly compensated by their penalty kill, which ranks top-10 in the league with 83.5%. At 5v5 the team is below water with just 47.2 CF%, which indicates that the Sharks are quiet often being outplayed in their games.
After tonight’s game the Lightning are having a four-day break before playing against the New Jersey Devils next Thursday.
Tampa Bay Lightning Projected Lines
Corey Perry - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov
Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - Steven Stamkos
Pat Maroon - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Mathieu Joseph
Boris Katchouk - Ross Colton - Taylor Raddysh
Victor Hedman - Cal Foote
Ryan McDonagh - Mikhail Sergachev
Fredrik Claesson - Andrej Sustr
San Jose Sharks Projected Lines
Alexander Barabanov — Tomas Hertl — Timo Meier
Jonathan Dahlen — Logan Couture — Noah Gregor
Matt Nieto — Nick Bonino — Andrew Cogliano
Jeffrey Viel — Jasper Weatherby — Adam Raska
Brent Burns — Mario Ferraro
Ryan Merkley — Marc-Edouard Vlasic
Erik Karlsson — Jaycob Megna