The St. Louis Blues come into HP Pavilion for a rare matinee performance Saturday, March 9. For them it is not just a rematch of their 2-1 home loss to the San Jose Sharks—one of two wins for them in February—but a chance to put some distance between them and the five teams chasing them for the final playoff berth they currently hold in the Western Conference according to the NHL.com point percentage ranking.
San Jose dropped eight of nine to St. Louis last season, including a five-game, first-round defeat. This season they possess the better record, placing fifth in the Western Conference in point percentage. Both teams are 3-3-1 since their last contest, and neither is happy about where they are or how they are playing.
The Blues will not have Alexander Steen, Andy McDonald or Vladimir Tarasenko. The Sharks are without Brent Burns, Martin Havlat and Thomas Greiss. The Sharks activated Tommy Wingels and reassigned Bracken Kearns to AHL Worcester.
They also recalled Thomas Heemskerk Friday from the local San Francisco Bulls rather than call up a more NHL-ready goalie, indicating they do not expect Greiss to miss extended time with what coach Todd McLellan referred to as a sore neck to CSN Bay Area. Nevertheless Antti Niemi is a good bet to make both starts over the weekend.
A look by the numbers shows how truly close the Sharks and Blues are to one another.