Preview: Wild vs. Sharks
ST. PAUL, Minn. — The approaching trade deadline has the San Jose Sharks and Minnesota Wild pondering how they might improve their outlook for the postseason with plenty of speculation out there about the two clubs.
A win against the other Sunday could be a big help, too.
Minnesota returns home after winning all three games of an East Coast road trip to face San Jose, which has lost two in a row as it ends a four-game road trip Sunday.
“It’s this time of year, what really matters is two points,” Sharks defenseman Brent Burns told NHL.com after Friday’s 3-1 loss in Chicago. “It’s frustrating to lose. You bounce back after a tough night, did some things well, but you don’t win. So that’s tough.”
San Jose (33-21-8) is second in the Pacific Division, one point ahead of Anaheim and Calgary. While the Sharks are a top-three team in their division, which would mean a spot in the playoffs, the packed standings in the West concern all the teams.
Four points separated Minnesota (34-20-7), third in the Central heading into Saturday, with Los Angeles, which is fifth in the Pacific and 10th in the West.
“We’re just building to make the playoffs,” Wild coach Bruce Boudreau told NHL.com. “We don’t care if it’s first, second or third. There’s not a weak team in the top 10 or top 12, so it doesn’t matter, just want to get there.”
The Wild have built their footing with their play on home ice, which made the successful trip to the New York metropolitan area vitally important. Minnesota beat the Islanders, Devils and Rangers.
“It’s huge. Not often are you going to come through New York and get all three wins,” Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk told the team’s website. “Right now, with the playoff race, I say it every day, but we need every single point we can get. To be able to come through a tough road trip and get all six points is huge for us.”
As both teams try to accumulate as many points as possible, they could make moves before Monday’s trade deadline.
The Sharks suddenly are in the thick of the rumor mill. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun tweeted Saturday that San Jose is one of the teams that has talked to Ottawa about star defenseman Erik Karlsson, who would be a big addition to the back end for a team that’s 14th in the NHL in goals per game.
Sharks general manager Doug Wilson also told the San Jose Mercury News that Burns is playing through an upper-body injury. Burns, a former Wild draft pick, played 25:58 on Friday and had an assist.
“I think everybody is (playing hurt). It’s that time of year,” Burns told the Mercury News. “It’s fine.”
Minnesota hopes Friday’s game against the Rangers demonstrated a bit of internal improvement.
“He’s a guy that when you can see him feeling it, you want to be out there with him and you want to try and get him some touches,” Staal told the team’s website. “He seems to make things happen and tonight the puck seemed to be following him around a little bit once he got that first one.
“He’s one of those guys that when he gets the offensive vibes going, he can be a difference maker.”
Boudreau said he wanted to “try it for a period and see how it goes.” Granlund and Staal will be together at the start Sunday.
“When he’s on and he’s feeling it like that, every time he touches the puck he’s a threat to do something good with it. It was fun to watch,” Boudreau told Wild.com of Granlund.
“Especially after he got his first goal, I think he felt a little bit of relief there and he started to go after that.”