In the Crease: Sharks go for season sweep of Blues

Sharks looking to rebound in St.Louis

In the Crease: Sharks go for season sweep of Blues
December 17, 2013, 7:45 am
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The Sharks have won both games between the teams, 6-2 on Oct. 15 at Scottrade Center at 6-3 on Nov. 29 at SAP Center. (AP)

Programming note: Sharks-Blues coverage gets underway at 4:30 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live, only on Comcast SportsNet California

Where they stand
Sharks: 20-7-6, 46 points, 3rd Pacific Division, 5th Western Conference
Blues: 22-6-4, 48 points, 2nd Central Division, 3rd Western Conference

Vitals
Sharks
Goals per game: 3.18 (3rd)
Goals-against per game: 2.33 (8th)
Power play: 18.8 percent (11th)
Penalty kill: 82.2 percent (16th)

Blues
Goals per game: 3.41 (2nd)
Goals-against per game: 2.34 (9th)
Power play: 23.7 percent (5th)
Penalty kill: 84.1 percent (11th)

Probable lines
Sharks
Patrick Marleau – Logan Couture – Tommy Wingels
Tomas Hertl – Joe Thornton – Brent Burns
James Sheppard – Joe Pavelski – Marty Havlat
John McCarthy – Andrew Desjardins – Mike Brown

[RELATED: Sharks looking for more from Burns]

Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Brad Stuart – Dan Boyle
Matt Irwin – Jason Demers

Antti Niemi (confirmed starter)
Alex Stalock

Blues
Alex Steen – David Backes – T.J. Oshie
Brenden Morrow – Derek Roy – Chris Stewart
Magnus Jaajarvi – Patrik Berglund – Vladimir Tarasenko
Chris Porter – Maxim Lapierre – Adam Cracknell

Alex Pietrangelo – Jay Bouwmeester
Kevin Shattenkirk – Barret Jackman
Ian Cole – Roman Polak

Jaroslav Halak (likely starter)
Brian Elliott

The latest
Sharks: The Sharks lost their fifth game in the last six by a 3-2 count in Nashville on Saturday. Patrick Marleau and Dan Boyle each had a goal and an assist in the loss, as San Jose kicked off a three-game road trip. Antti Niemi, starting for the 12th time in 13 games, suffered the defeat with 20 saves.

Blues: St. Louis’ three-game winning streak was snapped last night in Ottawa, 3-2 in overtime. Chris Stewart scored both goals in the loss, which came on a goal from the Senators’ Cody Ceci. The Blues lost captain and center David Backes to an upper body injury, and his status for tonight’s game against the Sharks is uncertain.

[RELATED: Sharks aim for season hat trick against Blues]

Keep an eye on…
Sharks: Brent Burns. Burns had a career-high four points the last time the Sharks and Blues met on Nov. 29. Since then? He has just one assist in his last eight games, and is scoreless in his last five. The Sharks need more out of players like Burns and Logan Couture (two assists in the last six games) if they hope to turn things around.

Blues: Derek Roy. The offseason addition has 24 points in 32 games (8g, 16a) including a four-game point streak. The second line center could play an even more prominent role depending on David Backes’ injury situation, and in 11 career games against the Sharks, he has eight points (2g, 6a).

Injuries/Scratches
Sharks: Mike Brown (lower body) is probable. Scott Hannan (upper body) is questionable. Raffi Torres (right ACL surgery), Adam Burish (back surgery) are out.

Blues: Vladimir Sobotka (upper body) and David Backes (upper body) are questionable. Jordan Leopold (finger) and Ryan Reaves (broken right hand) are out.

Season/All-Time series
The Sharks have won both games between the Sharks and Blues, 6-2 on Oct. 15 at Scottrade Center at 6-3 on Nov. 29 at SAP Center. Joe Thornton leads the Sharks with seven points in the two games (2g, 5a), and Brent Burns has five points (3g, 2a), including a hat trick in the most recent meeting.

San Jose is 34-43-2-6 all-time against St. Louis.

Quoteable
“We can’t start slow. We’ve got to be better on the road, we know how big points are right now.” – Logan Couture

Burning question
What has been the biggest issue for the Sharks during their 1-4-1 stretch?

Leave your answer in the comments section below.