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Game Preview / Gamethread #42: Streaking Jackets look to keep on keepin’ on

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This is your gamethread for today’s matinee between the Sharks and Blue Jackets.

San Jose Sharks v Columbus Blue Jackets Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images

Saturday, January 04, 2020 - 1:00 EST
Nationwide Arena - Columbus, Ohio
TV: Fox Sports Ohio; Radio: 97.1 FM
Opponent’s Blog: Fear The Fin

San Jose Sharks (18-21-3, 39 points, 6th Pacific, 13th West)

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Columbus Blue Jackets (19-14-8, 46 points, 6th Metro, 10th East)

The Blue Jackets meet the Sharks for the first time this season from Nationwide Arena in Columbus. It’s also Kids Takeover Day for the promotion, but that could just as easily apply to the Blue Jackets, who look to extend a current league-best 12-game points streak, in large part with all the kids up from the Monsters.

On the other side, while San Jose has been one of your perennial playoff contenders in recent memory, this year could mark a new start to the decade in which the Sharks aren’t qualifying for the playoffs. It’s not over yet, but they have struggled to this point as they enter play just two points from last place in the Western Conference.

San Jose comes into play a Thursday winner over the Penguins 3-2 in overtime. Columbus comes in after their 2-1 overtime win against the Bruins in Boston on Thursday.

Player to Watch

Logan Couture, named to the All-Star team for the second time in his career this past week, is in his first season as captain of the Sharks. He leads the club with 34 points, is third on the club with 13 goals, and tied-for-second with 21 assists. To me, it seems crazy to think Couture has been in the NHL for a decade already, and has racked up 253 career goals, 288 assists, for 541 career points. In 21 career games against Columbus, Couture has 16 points (five goals, 11 assists), and he had an assist in two games last season. Couture also leads the team with eight power play points, all assists.

Jackets Notes

Gustav Nyquist, who was traded to the Sharks last season, faces his former Sharks mates for the first time. ... Elvis Merzlikins (2-0-0, .968 SV%, 0.99 GAA) has been solid over the previous two games, allowing just the two total goals against the Panthers and Bruins. ... Dean Kukan (out indefinitely) has been placed on IR after suffering a medial meniscus tear and articular cartilage injury Thursday at Boston. ... Justin Scott has been sent back down to Cleveland. ... Nathan Gerbe has been selected to represent the Monsters in the AHL All-Star Game. ... Columbus’ current 12-game points streak is the third best in franchise history. ... I worried Zach Werenski returned from injury too soon but no worries, he has already reached last season’s total in goals (11) and has seven points (five goals, two assists) since returning from injury Dec. 17. ... Alexander Wennberg is two games away from 400 in his NHL career. ...

The Other Bench

The San Jose Sharks began the season with their typical Stanley Cup aspirations, having re-signed Erik Karlsson to an eight-year extension over the summer, reuniting with Patrick Marleau, and coming to an agreement on another contract with Joe Thornton. ... But familiar faces such as former captain Joe Pavelski are gone, and head coach Peter DeBoer was fired last month after a slow and disappointing start to the season. ... The Sharks, now led by interim coach, and former Blue Jackets assistant, Bob Boughner, come into today’s game looking up most at most of the teams in the Western Conference, as they are 6th place in the Pacific, and 13th in the Western Conference. ... Though they’ve won two of their last three, the Sharks are 3-5-1 under Boughner and 3-9-2 since Dec. 1. ... Martin Jones is 13-15-1, 3.13 GAA, .893, SV percentage. ... Aaron Dell is 5-6-2, 3.06, .904.

Season Series

01/04/2020 SJS @ CBJ
01/09/2020 CBJ @ SJS

Stats Preview

San Jose Columbus
2.62 (26) GPG 2.61 (27)
3.33 (27) GAPG 2.71 (7)
14.9% (27) PP% 17.1% (23)
88.0% (1) PK% 80.6% (17)
50.0% (15) 5v5 Corsi % 50.1% (13)
48.9% (20) 5v5 Fenwick % 52.5% (7)
8.2 (17) 5v5 Shot % 6.7 (29)
.888 (31) 5v5 Save % .927 (8)
Tomas Hertl, 15 G Leader Pierre-Luc Dubois, 14
Erik Karlsson, 24 A Leader Seth Jones, Gustav Nyquist, 19
Logan Couture, 34 P Leader Pierre-Luc Dubois, Gustav Nyquist, 28
Evander Kane, 83 PIM Leader Nick Foligno, 43
7-10-2 Home / Road 12-8-2
3-6-1 Last 10 7-0-3

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
Gustav Nyquist Boone Jenner Nick Foligno
Eric Robinson Pierre-Luc Dubois Kevin Stenlund
Sonny Milano Alexander Wennberg Nathan Gerbe
Ryan MacInnis Riley Nash Jakob Lilja
Zach Werenski Seth Jones
Vladislav Gavrikov David Savard
Scott Harrington Gabriel Carlsson
Elvis Merzlikins
Matiss Kivlenieks
San Jose Sharks
Tomas Hertl Logan Couture Patrick Marleau
Evander Kane Barclay Goodrow Timo Meier
Marcus Sorensen Joe Thornton Kevin Labanc
Melker Karlsson Joel Kellman Stefan Noesen
Brenden Dillon Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic Erik Karlsson
Radim Simek Mario Ferraro
Martin Jones
Aaron Dell