PREVIEW: San Joes Sharks return from layoff, pay visit to Anaheim Ducks

By Field Level Media
Jan 26, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; San Jose Sharks head coach Bob Boughner during the first period against the Colorado Avalanche at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The San Jose Sharks are set to visit the Anaheim Ducks on Friday night for the first of eight matchups this season between the two California teams.

The game marks the first time the Sharks will take the ice in more than a week after their two games against the Vegas Golden Knights set for earlier this week were postponed due to a positive COVID-19 test within Vegas’ coaching staff.

San Jose was swept in its previous two games against the Colorado Avalanche, getting outscored 10-3 over the series. For the upcoming weekend series in Anaheim, Sharks’ head coach Bob Boughner is shaking up his forward lines in an effort to turn that trend around.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Sharks, check out #SharksTerritory rumors, rankings, and news here.

“On the road, you need to be able to run four lines, and I don’t want a weak link or a weak line,” Boughner told the San Jose Mercury News. “I want to make sure all four lines are strong, so that’s what we have in mind with some of these changes, to have a little more balance.”

The lineup makeover includes moving seasoned veteran Patrick Marleau up from San Jose’s fourth line to its second, along with Tomas Hertl and Ryan Donato.

“We’ve got to find a way to get Hertl’s line going offensively,” Boughner said, “but also make sure that each line we roll out there is solid.”

Boughner has yet to tap a starting goalie for Friday night’s game, but he told the press on Thursday he plans to give Martin Jones and Devan Dubnyk each a start against the Ducks.

Anaheim enters Friday’s game coming off of a 3-1 victory over the L.A. Kings, which snapped a three-game losing skid. The Ducks outshot the Kings 43-21, leading the shot chart 15-4 in the first frame alone.

“It’s about chances, right? If you’re not getting chances, it’s a different problem,” Ducks head coach Dallas Eakins said. “We rung one or two off the post. It’s always interesting.”

David Backes contributed to the Ducks’ win with a goal in the second period, his first since Dec. 1, 2019, when he was still a member of the Boston Bruins. The 36-year-old forward, who ended last season with a turbulent departure from Boston and started this season on Anaheim’s taxi squad, said the goal reaffirmed how thankful he is for the opportunity to keep playing.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Ducks, check out #FlyTogether rumors, rankings, and news here.

“I’ve accepted there’s going to be ups and downs,” Backes told the Orange County Register. “You know what? I’m going to weigh the advantages in my favor in every opportunity I can so I can show I’m still a productive player in this league.”

While Eakins has yet to finalize his lineup for Friday’s game against the Sharks, it appears Backes has earned himself more playing time.

“We’ll see where it goes with him,” Eakins said. “It’s hard not to like a guy like that because he just lays his heart and soul on the line every night.”

–Field Level Media