For the first time since being fired from the San Jose Sharks 14 months ago, Vegas Golden Knights head coach Pete DeBoer leads his new team into the Shark Tank this afternoon.
DeBoer certainly knows the way to San Jose, where he went 198-129-34 over five seasons and won the Western Conference Championship once. But now as the bench boss of the Honda West Division leading Golden Knights, he is charged with getting a talented group across a bigger finish line: winning the Stanley Cup.
Vegas Golden Knights (8-2-1) vs. San Jose Sharks (5-6-1)
The San Jose Sharks are a tough team to figure out. Many pundits, including myself, picked them to be out of the playoffs once again, struggling to score goals and even moreso keep them out. But this season despite playing every single game on the road so far because of COVID-19, the Sharks are just slightly below .500. Even more interesting is that off-season acquisition Devan Dubnyk, who was supposed to lead the way in net, has struggled to an 0-3-1 start.
Instead it has been the much-maligned Martin Jones who has all five wins despite a massive 4.09 GAA and paltry .865 save percentage. Even when the Sharks have been able to score a decent amount of goals, it hasn’t guaranteed victory. In fact, the Sharks have only won once in regulation this season, with the other four wins coming in the shootout where Jones has been very good.
For the Golden Knights, they come in off a shutout loss to the Anaheim Ducks Thursday and look to jump immediately back into the win column against the listless Sharks. Anaheim did a good job of limiting the VGK scoring chances, allowing only 11 shots on goal through the first two periods of play and 21 for the game.
This one-game trip to San Jose is a good chance to hit the reset button and use the motivation of giving DeBoer a win in his old building to kick things back in the right direction.
Keep An Eye On
Vegas Golden Knights
Cody Glass started the season bouncing in and out of the lineup, mostly because the Golden Knights are in cap jail when everyone is healthy. But lately Glass has been showing more and more of the potential to become the big-time center Vegas imagined when they drafted him sixth overall in 2017. Glass had a four-game point streak snapped in Thursday’s loss, but don’t be surprised if he gets right back on track.
San Jose Sharks
The Goaltending. It really doesn’t matter who starts for the Sharks. Dubnyk has decent numbers but no run support. Jones has atrocious numbers but gets the goals most nights. Either way the Sharks have a problem at every level, but they really need a goalie to steal a game or two and reward the effort when it’s there. If Vegas gets to the Sharks early, it might be lights out.
Vegas Golden Knights
- The Golden Knights lead the NHL with just over 16 blocked shots per game.
- Max Pacioretty leads all active American-born NHLers with seven career hat tricks.
- Dylan Coghlan is primed to do something extremely interesting if he plays his fifth pro game tonight: don a different uniform combination in all five of those games. Vegas has worn its traditional home jerseys, gold jerseys, red jerseys and then home jerseys with shiny gold helmets in his first four starts. The team will wear its road whites today in San Jose.
- Nick Holden played his 500th career game on February 11th against Anaheim.
San Jose Sharks
- Alexei Melnichuk made his NHL debut Thursday night, stopping all five shots faced in relief.
- Tomas Hertl scored both goals for the Sharks Thursday night and is now just one off the team lead for goals held by Logan Couture with six.
- Brent Burns leads the NHL in time on ice, averaging 27:08 per game.
- If Radim Simek plays it will be his 100th NHL game.
- If the Sharks win, it will be Bob Boughner’s 100th NHL coaching victory.