Both teams should welcome this meeting because one losing streak has to end: New York is due to end one and would rather face a sputtering team, while San Jose's can be nipped in the bud. Considering the pictured advantages as well as current trends, the guests seem ripe for the picking.
The Islanders have lost 10 in a row. Only two of those defeats went past regulation, and both of those were lost playing real hockey rather than via shootout. That 10-game losing streak has left them with the worst record in the weak Metropolitan Division and the second-worst in the Eastern Conference.
By contrast, the Sharks are coming off a strong performance in which they out-shot the Minnesota Wild 38-13 but lost in regulation. Even with neither previous loss bearing a point, they still have the best point percentage in the Pacific Division.
Nevertheless, it has dropped them to third-best in the Western Conference. With six teams out west earning more than that 12 points every nine games, San Jose lost the ground gained in the preceding six-game winning streak that coincided with the return of Brent Burns.
The last three games are the only ones the Sharks have lost in regulation with him in the lineup. One of the previous 14 ended in a shootout loss and two were won in the skills competition, while 11 were finished in regulation.
San Jose is without only three depth forwards, two of whom (Adam Burish and Mike Brown) would be candidates to be healthy scratches. A 10-1-2 home record and 8-3-1 record against the Eastern Conference should bring confidence.
Unfortunately for fans, long-time Shark Evgeni Nabokov is not expected to be ready to return from injury. New York—3-12-0 on the road and 3-7-1 against the Western Conference—is also thin on the blue line without Lubomir Visnovsky or Brian Strait.