Sharks close out road trip by challenging Blues
Saturday, 12.18.2010 / 6:00 PM
NHL.comSHARKS (16-11-5) at BLUES (15-10-5)
TV -- CSN-CA (HD), FS-MW (HD)
Last 10 --
San Jose 5-4-1; St. Louis 3-5-2
Season Series --
The two Western Conference foes will meet for the second of four times this season. In early November, the Blues clipped the Sharks with a 2-0 victory. Matt D'Agostini
and David Perron
scored for the Blues and Jaroslav Halak
earned the shutout. Antti Niemi took the loss in net for the Sharks.
Big Story --
San Jose is looking to close out its three-game road trip on a positive note against the Blues, who are in the midst of a three-game homestand. With a victory, the Blues can enter the Western Conference playoff picture and climb to the seventh position where the Sharks currently sit.
The matchup against the Blues will be the eighth road game in 10 games this month for the Sharks, making their standing in the competitive Pacific Division even more impressive. The Sharks sit in third place, but with a win can tie the Dallas Stars for first. Part of what has made the Sharks competitive night in and night out has been the play of Logan Couture, who's been a plus player in five straight games. His play on the ice has not gone unnoticed.
"Catalyst would be a very good word," coach Todd McLellan said of Couture. "He's scored some very big goals. Our special teams were below par, but he found a way to get the winner in overtime (Thursday night). He's one of the top, if not the top, rookies in the League and when you have that type of player on your team, you're thankful."
The Blues are in the midst of a difficult stretch of games, as they've already seen the Detroit Red Wings and the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night. While the Red Wings bested the Blues, the Kings saw what the Blues can offer, as St. Louis tickled the twine five times behind goalie Jonathan Quick and added an empty-net goal. That momentum can propel the Blues to a strong performance against the Sharks and the Canucks two nights later.
Who's hot --
Depth has paved the way to success for the Sharks and leading that effort has been the play of Ryane Clowe, who's tallied points in three of the past five games. The Blues, meanwhile, bring strong performances from David Backes
and Vladiir Sobotka against the Sharks. Both Backes and Sobtka collected 3 points against the Kings on Thursday night.
Injury report --
For the Blues, Alex Pietrangelo
and Erik Johnson
were sidelined against the Kings on Thursday night with upper body and knee injuries, respectively. Johnson will return Saturday, while Pietrangelo will continue to sit out and is day-to-day. The Sharks, meanwhile, will wait on Douglas Murray, who is out with a lower-body injury and is also day-to-day.
Stat pack --
The Sharks currently have seven skaters with at least 20 points, compared to two on the Blues.
Puck drop --
The Sharks have hovered around .500 on the road this season, going 8-7-2 so far, while the Blues will bring their 10-2-2 home record against San Jose.