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Ontheway!: Blackhawks vs. Sharks Preview

A battle at the bottom of the Western Conference standings as San Jose comes to Chicago

San Jose Sharks v Chicago Blackhawks
Kirby Dach of the Chicago Blackhawks controls the puck under pressure from Radim Simek of the San Jose Sharks
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

For the first time since the last regular-season game of the shortened 2019-20 season, March 11, 2020 (a 6-2 win), the Blackhawks will host the Sharks on Sunday with both teams currently on the outside looking in at the playoffs after the “important” deadline of Thanksgiving.

The Sharks are faring better than the Blackhawks are around the quarter-pole of the season, fifth in the Pacific Division and three points behind the Golden Knights with a game in hand.

The Sharks are led this season by Timo Meier — who has 18 points in 15 games — and Tomas Hertl, who leads the team with eight goals in 20 games. Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson, two high-paid defensemen, have 12 and 11 points. respectively.

The Sharks have also seen a huge improvement in net, as gone are Martin Jones and his series of backups. Now in between the pipes for San Jose is James Reimer, who has a .927 save percentage, and 25-year-old Adin Hill, who has a .897. Reimer is the present for the team and San Jose likely hopes Hill is the future.

The Sharks roster has seen more change than just in net. Joe Thornton left the team for the Maple Leafs and is now with the Panthers. Patrick Marleau came back, set the all-time games played record and remains an unrestricted free agent who could sign with a team later in the season. The Sharks also added Andrew Cogliano and Nick Bonino in the offseason, both previously of Central Division rivals.

Jonathan Dahlen — son of former Blackhawks forward Ulf — is making quite the impression in his rookie season at 24 years old after being traded to the Sharks from the Canucks a couple years ago. He’s tied for second on San Jose with seven goals in 16 games. He’s missed a few games recently but could be back against the Blackhawks.

The Blackhawks are coming off Friday afternoon’s upset over the St. Louis Blues, still the second-place team in the Central Division. Chicago came back after being down 2-0 in the first period while Seth Jones picked up two assists in the victory, including on the overtime game-winner.

Another goal the Blackhawks scored on Friday was taken off the board, as Jonathan Toews had a goal called back for Patrick Kane being offsides. It was the second goal Toews has had called back, as the captain remains without a goal this season. Toews was given Saturday’s practice off for a maintenance day and also allowed to skip Sunday’s morning skate. But he, and everyone else who was in the lineup on Friday afternoon, is expected to be on the ice again:

The Blackhawks will attempt to defeat a Sharks team coming in off a 4-1 loss to the Maple Leafs and attempt to build off the victory against St. Louis.

Blackhawks — Statistic — Sharks

44.88% (32nd) — 5-on-5 Corsi For — 46.27% (27th)

41.76% (32nd) — 5-on-5 Expected goals for — 47.29% (26th)

2.20 (30th) — Goals per game — 2.65 (24th)

3.25 (26th) — Goals against per game — 2.85 (15th)

48.1% (24th) — Faceoffs — 52.3% (8th)

16.7% (22nd) — Power play — 17.9% (20th)

84.5% (10th) — Penalty kill — 87.5% (4th)

Projected lineups (subject to change)

Blackhawks

Hagel — Toews — Kane

DeBrincat — Dach — Kubalik

Kurashev — Borgstrom — Carpenter

R. Johnson — Khaira — Hardman

de Haan — S. Jones

McCabe — Murphy

Kalynuk — Gustafsson

Fleury

Lankinen

Sharks

Meier — Couture — Balcers

Barabanov — Hertl — Gregor

Cogliano — Bonino — Dahlen

Nieto — Weatherby — Labanc

Ferraro — Burns

Middleton — Karlsson

Vlasic — Simek

Reimer

Hill

How to watch

When: 6:00 p.m. CT

Where: United Center, Chicago

TV: NBC Sports Chicago, NHL Network

Webstream: ESPN+