Arizona Coyotes to Host San Jose Sharks in Critical 2-Game Set

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

The Arizona Coyotes are gnashing their teeth at the chance to take 4 points from the San Jose Sharks in two important games this weekend.

The Arizona Coyotes haven’t played the San Jose Sharks since the middle of January, and the teams split their two-game set in Glendale. So what have those teal and black-clad Sharks been up to since?

Following Wednesday night’s win over the Los Angeles Kings, the Sharks (13-14-4 30 pts) are 5-4-1 in their last 10 games. They’ve beaten the Kings twice in a row as they head to Arizona, yet have given up more than 40 shots in each of those games.

The two games in Glendale are critically important for the Coyotes, as the Sharks sit only three points behind them in the Honda West Division standings and have two games in hand.

The fourth through seventh place teams are close to one another at this time. The St. Louis Blues are in 4th place with 37 points, while the Coyotes have 33. The LA Kings are just one point behind the Yotes with 32 and are in 6th place, with the upwardly-trending Sharks with 30 points. Both the Blues and Kings have a game in hand over the Desert Dogs.

The Sharks are led by captain Logan Couture (14G 9A 23 pts), Evander Kane (14G 15A 29 pts), who scored two goals against the Kings on Wednesday, and Timo Meier (6G 14A 20 pts). It’s unknown if Couture will play on Friday night, though, as he got hit by Jeff Carter near the end of Wednesday’s game, went down hard, and then proceeded to the locker room for evaluation. It initially appeared as if he may have suffered an injury to his neck and/or shoulder.

There really hasn’t been a #1 and #2 goalkeeper for San Jose this season, as the Sharks have pretty much rotated Martin Jones and Devan Dubnyk between the pipes. Jones was on the ice and got the two wins against the Kings.

There are several new faces that fans will see with the Sharks this weekend, including right winger Kurtis Gabriel, who has played in 11 games and already has 36 penalty minutes. Twenty-three year old Latvian left winger Rudolfs Balcers and American center Dylan Gambrell are playing more minutes for San Jose, bringing energy and speed to their lineups.

Young, aggressive defensemen Mario Ferraro and Nikolai Knyzhov are learning from solid veterans like Brent Burns, Erik Karlsson, and Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Russian-born Knyzhov stands at 6′ 2″ and 218 lbs.

Here are some stat leader comparisons as of March 25:

#18 Clayton Keller – 10 Goals
#81 Phil Kessel – 10 Goals
#39 Logan Couture – 14 Goals

#83 Conor Garland – 25 Points
#9 Evander Kane – 29 Points

#83 Conor Garland – 14 Assists
#9 Evander Kane – 15 Assists
#28 Timo Meier – 14 Assists

#9 Clayton Keller – 54.17% Faceoff win percentage
#18 Christian Dvorak 54.2% Faceoff win percentage
#48 Tomas Hertl – 53.46% Faceoff win percentage

#31 Adin Hill – .906 Save percentage (2 Wins) – GAA: 2.97
#40 Devan Dubnyk – .899 Save percentage (3 Wins) – GAA: 3.19
#31 Martin Jones .902 Save percentage (10 Wins) – GAA: 3.23

With the Honda West Division being so tight, the Coyotes can’t afford to “skate on their heels.” The Sharks’ attack is not as intimidating as the Colorado Avalanche’s buzz saw, but they have a good mix of talented and aggressive veterans and youngsters.

The Arizona Coyotes need to be aggressive in their “O” zone and defend as a team in their “D” zone for 60 minutes. They need 1) shots, shots, shots, 2) to stay out of the penalty box, and 3) to figure out how to cleanly enter the attacking third on a power play.

That’s not too much to ask. We’ll see what happens on Friday night. Let’s go Coyotes!