Programming note – Sharks-Maple Leafs coverage starts today at 7:00 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on CSN California
WHERE THEY STAND
Sharks: 36-18-7, 79 points, 1st Pacific Division
Maple Leafs: 28-20-13, 69 points, 4th Atlantic Division
PREGAME NEWS AND NOTES
***The Sharks will play their first home game after the bye week enjoying a five-point lead on the division, with two games in hand on Anaheim and Edmonton. They have a real opportunity to open up a sizable advantage in the hopes of claiming their first division title since 2011.
“We see [the standings], everybody’s watching,” Tomas Hertl said. “Edmonton, Anaheim lost a couple games. That’s good for us. … We know during the playoffs how important it is starting at home. We for sure want to be on top in [the] division.”
***Toronto features one of the NHL’s more dangerous offenses, averaging 3.10 goals-per game. Teenagers Auston Matthews (30 goals, 54 points) and Mitch Marner (48 points), both 19 years old, are its top two scorers.
“Dynamic young players. I can’t remember in my time in the league, which is getting close to the last decade, young guys coming in making this type of impact,” Pete DeBoer said.
Mikkel Boedker is familiar with Matthews, a Scottsdale, AZ native, as he skated with the Coyotes from time to time before he was draft eligible.
“You could just see it then that he was something special and had a drive for the game and a love for the game,” Boedker said. “We’ve got to watch out for him.”
***As for Boedker, he’ll try and build off of his strong performance in Vancouver on Saturday, when he scored in the third period ending a 19-game goal drought.
“The points haven’t been there and that’s obviously something that I’m personally disappointed with, but there’s nothing you can do other than work hard at it,” he said. “That’s the way you’ve got to look at it. I feel like I’m doing that out there, and I feel like I’m getting better every game still."
***The Sharks’ third line of Hertl, Joel Ward and Chris Tierney will apparently remain intact, with Tierney skating in the middle. That group helped generate two of San Jose’s four goals in a 4-1 win Saturday.
Rookie Marcus Sorensen will draw into the lineup for his third NHL game, while Micheal Haley was back after needing Monday off for personal reasons.
KEEP AN EYE ON...
Sharks: Mikkel Boedker. After he was benched yet again in the third period of the Sharks’ final game before the bye week on Feb. 19 against Boston, Boedker responded with a strong game in Vancouver on Saturday, scoring his first goal in 20 games and registering five shots, tying his season-high. The winger has 20 points (7g, 13a) in 60 games.
Maple Leafs: Mitch Marner. Out for the last five games with what was thought to be a shoulder injury, Marner is expected to return to the Toronto lineup tonight. The 19-year-old rookie is second on the team in scoring behind only fellow first-year player Auston Matthews, and had nine points (4g, 5a) in his last nine games before getting hurt.
Kevin Labanc – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Patrick Marleau – Logan Couture – Mikkel Boedker
Tomas Hertl – Chris Tierney – Joel Ward
Marcus Sorensen – Micheal Haley – Melker Karlsson
Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon – David Schlemko
Martin Jones (starter)
Zach Hyman – Auston Matthews – William Nylander
James van Riemsdyk – Tyler Bozak – Mitch Marner
Leo Lomarov – Nazem Kadri – Connor Brown
Matt Martin – Brian Boyle – Nikita Soshnikov
Morgan Rielly – Alexey Marchenko
Jake Gardiner – Nikita Zaitsev
Matt Hunwick – Roman Polak
Frederik Andersen (starter)
Sharks: Joonas Donskoi (upper body) and Dylan DeMelo (broken wrist) are out.
Maple Leafs: Tyler Bozak (infected finger) and Mitch Marner (upper body) are day-to-day. Joffrey Lupul (sports hernia), Stephane Robidas (knee) and Connor Carrick (upper body) are out.
“You just have got to keep taking a step in the right direction every game, and lately I feel I’ve been playing well and been doing some good things out there. Our line I think has been finding some good chemistry. We’ve got to continue that.” – Mikkel Boedker