The San Jose Sharks are in serious trouble. The playoffs are slipping away, they’ve been terrible over their most recent stretch of games, and they’ve already lost once to the Oilers in the last week.
For San Jose to get back on track, tonight represents an absolute must-win. The Oilers aren’t playing terribly right now, but they haven’t exactly been brilliant, either. The Sharks have 2-3 games in hand on most of their playoff competition – a win tonight would bump the Flames out of the West’s final playoff spot, and another win tomorrow against Calgary would go a long ways toward sealing the fate of the Flames.
As the Oilers have shown, however, they can beat the Sharks. A win by the Oilers tonight would scratch one of San Jose’s games in hand, and the combination of that and a loss to a rested Flames team tomorrow would do a lot to keep Calgary ahead of one of their primary challengers.
- Hall – Nugent-Hopkins – Eberle
- Omark – Gagner – Hemsky
- Smyth – Horcoff – Jones
- Eager – Belanger – Petrell
- Smid – Petry
- Schultz – Whitney
- Sutton – Potter
As per the Oilers official site, Ben Eager returns to the lineup a few pounds lighter tonight (Tom Renney isn’t worried about, according to the video below) which means the merciful return to the press box of Darcy Hordichuk. In four games this month, Hordichuk has taken a total of 19 shifts and played more than 3:00 in a game just once. For the sake of reference, Ben Eager played 15 shifts in his last game. Eager will play with Petrell and Belanger on the fourth line.
Devan Dubnyk will get the start, returning from a minor injury.
Tom Renney’s Pre-Game Briefing
The Nation Network hockey pool standings will be updated this evening. Yesterday saw five excellent posts go up so there simply wasn’t room in the lineup for it then. It’s ready to go and will go up after the Sharks/Oilers game.
This is my last GDB as Jason Gregor will return for the write-up on Wednesday. He’ll bring things like “actually watching practice” and “knowing the lines before everyone else” back. Thanks for your tolerance while I filled in.