The road doesn't get any easier from here with the Sharks coming to town tonight to play the Jets. The Sharks have rocketed out to a 10-2-4 start on the backs of breakout seasons from Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski, and Brent Burns taking over as core players for the still contributing veterans Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. Rookies Tomas Hertl and Matthew Nieto have helped quite a bit as well. The unheralded blueline is led by veteran Marc-Eduard Vlasic who is on pace to destroy his career highs in all offensive categories. Antti Niemi has been solid if unspectacular this season to date.
For the Jets, the return to the lineup of Evander Kane on Friday sparked the Jets enigmatic offense with linemate Olli Jokinen getting his second multi-point game of the season and earning the second star. Dustin Byfuglien tossed the monkey off his back on Friday momentarily, only to have it thrown back on by Eric Tangradi stealing the goal, and will look to continue his strong play. Keaton Ellerby contributed his first point as a Jet as he continues to be a stablizing presence on the 3rd pairing for the injury depleted Jets D. No lineup changes are expected for the Jets. Ondrej Pavelec got his first shutout of the season on Friday against Nashville which is his first since March 1st, 2012 against Florida after failing to record a shutout last season. The 41 saves he made was a career high in saves in a shutout for Pavelec. He is expected to get the start for the Jets.
Jets haven't played the Sharks since January 12, 2012 which was a 2-0 loss at MTS Centre. It is the only time the two teams have played each other since the Thrashers came north to become the Jets.
Keys for the Jets
Perhaps fearing the challenge of Montoya after Montoya was given a key start against Chicago on Wednesday, Pavelec had his best game of the season. Jets need more of that Pavelec, particularly against a really good offensive team in San Jose.
Secondary scoring is still a problem. It's looking better in recent games, but in particular the 3rd line Halischuk-Scheifele-Frolik needs to keep producing.
Special teams will be key in the this matchup. San Jose has a deadly powerplay and, if the Jets continue to be passive on the PK and allow Thornton and Couture time on the PP, they will kill the Jets. The Jets powerplay continues to be cold, it's going to be hard to beat Niemi so some production on the PP would be nice.
Keys for the Sharks
Get shots on Pavelec and drive the net. Pavelec tends to let out some poor rebounds, it'll be key to get on him early.
Use the transition game to their advantage. San Jose's blueline moves the puck really well and they have some really good speed throughout the lineup. The Jets have struggled with teams that transition quick.
The Jets love to dump and chase, so quick clean breakouts are key to defeating the Jets.