The Devils once again welcome back former coach Peter DeBoer as they take on his Sharks in a rare afternoon contest.
The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (23-21-10) vs. the San Jose Sharks (33-18-5; SBN Blog: Fear the Fin)
The Time: 12:30 PM ET
The Broadcast: TV – MSG+; Radio - WFAN 660 AM and 101.9 FM
The Last Devils Game: The Devils defeated the Sabres on Monday thanks to powerplay goals by Adam Henrique and Pavel Zacha. Michael Cammalleri had 2 assists while Zacha and Damon Severson had 1 each. Cory Schneider made 22 saves on 23 shots, only allowing a goal to Tyler Ennis with Kyle Okposo and Justin Falk earning the assists. The Devils outshot the Sabres 39-23 with Severson (6 shots) and Cammalleri (5) leading the way. You can check out Devin's full recap of the game here.
The Last Sharks Game: The Sharks lost 2-1 to the Flyers in overtime yesterday. Patrick Marleau had the San Jose goal with Kevin Labanc and Joe Thornton earning the assists. Ivan Provorov had the Flyers regulation goal with Wayne Simmonds scoring the game winning goal. The Flyers outshot the Sharks 35-24. Aaron Dell made 33 saves in a rare start for the Sharks. Here is Fear the Fin's recap.
The Last Devils-Sharks Game: These teams last met on November 21 with the Sharks earning a 4-0 win over the Devils in San Jose. Chris Tierney, Patrick Marleau, Logan Couture, and Brent Burns had the goals. Keith Kinkaid stopped 37 of 41 shots while Martin Jones had a 26 save shutout. You can read Devin's recap of the game here.
The Goal: Hold your own at even strength and look to utilize the recently hot powerplay. It's no secret that both of these teams are in different spots at this moment in time. The Sharks enter the day 3rd in the Western Conference and are legitimate Stanley Cup contenders. The Devils are on the outside looking in the Eastern Conference, and like most transitioning teams, have struggled for consistency this season. San Jose will most likely have the best of even strength play as judged by their 5v5 Corsi For% of 50.94 compared to New Jersey's next to last in the NHL mark of 46.49% (stats via Corsica). Fortunately for the Devils, they have the awesome Cory Schneider and his .930 SV% in 2017 to help keep the Sharks off the board. If the Devils can hold their own during the run of play at even strength, perhaps they'll be able to draw some penalties and go to work on the powerplay. While the PP ranks 24th in the league at 16.3%, it's been much better lately with 5 goals on 9 opportunities over the past 3 games. Plus, while the Sharks PK is not bad, it's not exactly great either ranking 19th in the league at 80.5%. No matter where the game is played though, the Devils will have to take advantage of their chances.
Keep It Up: A few of the Devils I'm looking forward to watching this afternoon are Adam Henrique, Pavel Zacha, and Damon Severson. Henrique is on a 5 game scoring streak with 4 goals, 3 assists, and 9 shots while averaging 18:30 in ice time. Pavel Zacha has been displaying signs progression this season and lately he's been rewarded for his efforts with 4 goals, 3 assists, and 11 shots while averaging 14:47 in ice time over his last 9 games. It's been fun to watch him lately and see his confidence grow. Damon Severson has also been solid in 2017 with 6 assists in 17 games while averaging 20:43 in ice time and putting up a 3.58 Relative CF% according to Corsica.
The Sharks Top Players: The Sharks are led by defenseman and one of the most exciting players in the game, Brent Burns. He has 22 goals and 35 assists in 56 games while averaging nearly 25 minutes per night. Insane. Other defensemen that contribute at both ends of the rink are Marc-Edouard Vlasic (51 GP, 18 Pts, 21:38) and ex-Devil Paul Martin (55 GP, 17 Pts, 19:06). Another ex-Devil, David Schlemko hasn't had the same impact with the Sharks as he did with the Devils, but has posted a 11 points in 44 games while averaging 16:35. Up front, the Sharks are led by Joe Pavelski and his 18 goals, 29 assists in 56 games while averaging 19:28. Just behind him is Logan Couture (54 GP, 38 Pts, 18:05) though he is day-to-day with an upper body injury. Veterans Joe Thornton (56 GP, 35 Pts, 18:31) and Patrick Marleau (56 GP, 32 Pts, 17:19) are also players to keep an eye out for.
Potential Goaltending Matchup: Cory Schneider (17-15-8, 2.66 GAA, .912 SV%, 47.5 Quality Start%, 101 Goals Allowed%-, -0.78 Goals Saved Above Average) will likely face Martin Jones (27-15-4, 2.30 GAA, .915 SV%, 59.6 QS%, 97 GA%-, 3.51 GSAA). Keith Kinkaid (6-6-2, 2.59 GAA, .920 SV%, 50.0 QS%, 92 GA%-, 3.56 GSAA) figured to the be backup for the Devils. Aaron Dell (6-3-1, 2.05 GAA, .930 SV%, 66.6 QS%, 82 GA%-, 4.03 GSAA) will likely be the backup for the Sharks after starting their game yesterday. Hat tip to Hockey Reference for the Quality Start and Goals Saved Above Average metrics.
Your Take: Which players do you think will make an impact this afternoon? What are your expectations for this game? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!