|SAN JOSE SHARKS|
13–10–1 (27 points; .563%)
ROSTER / SCHEDULE
6:00 P.M. – SUNDAY, DECEMBER 5
BALLY SPORTS OHIO
Things can change quickly in the NHL.
For the Columbus Blue Jackets, the hope is that they change quickly for a second time.
After an unforeseen 12-6-0 start, a winless road trip has brought the Blue Jackets back to earth with a 12-10-0 mark on the season. Columbus returns home Sunday to face the San Jose Sharks at Nationwide Arena, in desperate need of a win to put the four-game losing streak to an end.
The home of the 5th Line has been a place of refuge for the Blue Jackets this season, where they have won eight of 11 games. For San Jose, the trip to Columbus if the fifth and final game of a five-game road trip — and their third game in four nights.
|54.4%||MONEYPUCK'S ODDS TO WIN||45.6%|
|57.0%||THE 538'S ODDS TO WIN||43.0%|
|89.5||82-GAME POINT PACE||92.3|
Know The Foe
The Sharks started the road trip hot, winning the first three games by a combined score of 9-3. They ran into an even hotter New York Ranger team Friday night, losing 1-0 to end their road heater.
San Jose is led on defense by veterans Erik Karlsson and Brent Burns, though the two rarely are on the ice together. Karlsson has been paired with the 6'3", 220lb Jacob Middleton, who had just 14 games to his name in the NHL prior to this season but has shown to be serviceable paired with Karlsson.
Burns, meanwhile, has been paired with 23-year-old Mario Ferraro for a second straight season, and the Sharks second round pick from the 2017 NHL Draft has been impressive alongside the 36-year-old blue liner.
Scoring has been an issue for the Sharks this season, as their 2.58 goals per game ranks 26th in the league. The scoring has been top-heavy, as well: Timo Meier and Logan Couture have 24 and 20 points, respectively, but the two have played on the same line most of the season and there's plenty of overlap. Only one other forward — center Tomas Hertl — has more than ten points this season.
GET THAT MAN-ADVANTAGE ROLLIN'
The Sharks have one of the best penalty kills in the league, with their 87.1% rate checking in at 4th in the NHL. The Blue Jackets, meanwhile, have had only four power plays in the last three games — none of which came against the Washington Capitals in Saturday's road finale. One power play goal may be enough to get the job done: San Jose has given up a power play goal in eight games this season. Their record in those eight games? 0-8-0.
ELVIS IS IN THE BUILDING — AS THE UNQUESTIONED #1?
With Joonas Korpisalo's trip to the injured reserve and rookie Daniil Tarasov looking sharp in his first two NHL starts this week, the question is a fair one: Are we nearing the end of Korpi's time in a Columbus sweater? It's a question that has been asked before, but this time, it sure does feel more real. For Elvis Merzlikins, it could be the first time in his NHL career where he'll have the chance to be a full-time, no-doubt-about-it number one goalie. He is expected to start Sunday, and it will be interesting to see how the change in pressure will affect him. If the past is any indication, Merzlikins is going to have an outstanding performance.
JUST SCORE, BABY
Sometimes, it really is that simple. The Blue Jackets have been in position to win their last two games, but the offense has not been there. Columbus is averaging 3.63 goals per game at home, but almost a full goal less than that on the road: 2.72. Take away two offensive explosions against Buffalo and Arizona, and that road goal average drops all the way to an even 2.00. Let's hope that the return to Nationwide can cure what ails the Columbus forwards.
LW C RW 93 Jakub Voracek 38 Boone Jenner 28 Oliver Bjorkstrand 14 Gustav Nyquist 34 Cole Sillinger 16 Max Domi 50 Eric Robinson 7 Sean Kuraly 42 Alexandre Texier 59 Yegor Chinakhov 96 Jack Roslovic 17 Justin Danforth LD RD 8 Zach Werenski 22 Jake Bean 44 Vladislav Gavrikov 2 Andrew Peeke 5 Gavin Bayreuther 27 Adam Boqvist Starting Goalie Backup 90 Elvis Merzlikins 40 Daniil Tarasov
*subject to change