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Sharks at Blues game preview: Regroup and refocus

NHL: JAN 07 Sharks at Blues

Following the Blues’ 8-0 drubbing by the Avalanche, and the subsequent strong words from captain Ryan O’Reilly, the Blues should be looking forward to tonight. It’s their first home game since March 10th of last year. They’ve become a different team in those ten months - Jay Bouwmeester has officially retired, Alex Pietrangelo signed with the Vegas Golden Knights, and Alexander Steen was forced to hang up the skates due to ongoing back issues.

Tonight, the Blues will be short Sammy Blais due to a suspension, and Robert Bortuzzo due to a hit that didn’t garner a second look by the Department of Player Safety.

The Sharks, tonight’s visitors, have changed too. For the first time since 2006, San Jose will be in St. Louis without Joe Thornton. The long-time Shark, instead of retiring at the age of 41, signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs for (presumably) one last season. Long time Shark Patrick Marleau has returned from a stop-over in Pittsburgh, which came after a year back with the Sharks after a stopover in Toronto. The Sharks also added Matt Nieto and Ryan Donato this off-season for some depth up front. Botable off-season addition Devan Dubnyk takes over back-up duties in net. Interim coach Bob Boughner is now their official head coach.

Still, much has remained status quo under new captain Logan Couture, with Martin Jones as the starter. He’s begun this season with a 4.34 GAA and .869 save percentage over two games. Despite Friday’s loss, Binnington’s stats are a smidge better at a 3.00 GAA and a .902 save percentage. Both goaltenders should be thankful for small sample sizes right now, and one of them should escape tonight’s game with much improved numbers.

San Jose lost Saturday night 5-3 to to the Arizona Coyotes, so the Blues aren’t the only ones motivated for a bounce back victory.

The Sharks won’t be back in California for a home until February due to COVID-19 restrictions, and even then, it’s up in the air as to if those games will be in San Jose. The Blues, on the other hand, will be opening their homestand in front of 300 frontline workers who have been invited to tonight’s game.