NBCSN’s ongoing coverage of the 2013 campaign will continue tonight when the St. Louis Blues host the San Jose Sharks at the Scottrade Center at 8:00 p.m. ET.
In January, the Sharks could do no wrong thanks in part to an explosive offense led by forwards Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton, and Joe Pavelski.
They earned seven straight victories that month – and they haven’t won since. Instead, San Jose has a 0-4-3 record in February and the trio that instilled fear into goaltenders earlier this season has combined for just four points this month.
Still, Sharks GM Doug Wilson is preaching patience.
“There are other teams that have gone through phases of losing some games, other very good, talented teams out there that are not on top of their game to the level they want to be,” Wilson said.
Until recently, Wilson might have been referring to their opponents tonight.
The Blues also got off to a hot start this season only to struggle in February. They lost five straight games, in part because starting goaltender Jaroslav Halak suffered a groin injury and netminder Brian Elliott was lit up in his absence.
However, the Blues bounced back with 22-year-old goaltender Jake Allen between the pipes. Halak has recovered as well, although Allen will start tonight, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeremy Rutherford.
With St. Louis rising and San Jose looking for answers, the Sharks probably wish this meeting was under different circumstances. This is the two squads’ first match since the Blues dismissed San Jose in the first round of the 2012 playoffs.
Just a few weeks ago, the Sharks could have used this game to prove that they’ve moved past their 2012 shortcomings. Now they are limited to a far more basic need: Two points.
Probable goaltenders: STL – Allen (3-0-0, 2.76 GAA, .888 SV%) | SJS – Antti Niemi (6-2-3, 1.94 GAA, .930 SV%)
Top scorers: STL – Alexander Steen (4-11-15, 15 GP) | SJS – Marleau and Thornton are tied with 15 points in 14 games.
St. Louis – Forwards: Jamie Langenbrunner (hip)
San Jose – Forwards: James Sheppard (lower body), Andrew Desjardins (illness)