Programming note – Sharks-Blackhawks coverage starts at 7:00 p.m. on NBCSN
WHERE THEY STAND
Sharks: 10-8-1, 21 points, 3rd Pacific Division
Blackhawks: 13-5-2, 28 points, 1st Central Division
PREGAME NEWS AND NOTES
***After playing a league-high 12 of their first 18 games on the road, the Sharks opened a five-game homestand on Monday by pounding the Devils, 4-0. San Jose is 5-2 at SAP Center, where it will remain for three more games after tonight’s meeting with Chicago.
“We’ve been on the road a lot. We feel good with our team,” Brent Burns said. “We know we’ve got stuff to work on, but where we’re at, we feel pretty good. It’s just a matter of taking advantage of these homestands.”
***Tonight marks the first of three games between the Sharks and Blackhawks, who sit atop the Western Conference. Chicago is coming off of its worst defeat of the season, 5-0 in Edmonton, to fall to 2-2-0 on its annual “Circus Trip.”
While Blackhawks stars like Jonathan Towes, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith remain, the club is incorporating a number of rookies onto its roster. They have five first-year players that have played in at least 11 games.
“I think Chicago is one team that has done a real good job of incorporating young guys,” Pete DeBoer said. “It’s always easier when you have Kane and Towes and [Marian] Hossa and [Brent] Seabrook and Keith and those guys. But, they’ve done a good job of incorporating young guys into that group and still being very good.”
Tommy Wingels said: “They always have the speed and skill and the identity. Their core pieces are certainly still there. … Are the peripheral players a little bit different? Absolutely, but it’s the same guys driving the bus and the same guys you need to be aware of.”
The Blackhawks are 8-2-2 in their last 12 meetings with San Jose. The Sharks visit the United Center is less than a month on Dec. 18.
***Rookie Danny O’Regan was reassigned to the Barracuda on Tuesday, so Kevin Labanc will get back in after he sat out the Devils game. Melker Karlsson remains out, too, but expects to play very soon.
Martin Jones will start in net.
KEEP AN EYE ON...
Sharks: Brent Burns. The NHL’s third-leading scorer among defenseman will be playing his first game since signing a massive eight-year, $64 million contract extension on Tuesday. Burns, first on the Sharks in goals (7) and second in points (16), ended a three-game scoring drought with a goal and an assist against the Devils on Monday.
Blackhawks: Patrick Kane. The reigning Hart Trophy winner is off to another impressive start, leading the Blackhawks with 20 points (6g, 14a) in 20 games, good for fifth in the NHL. Kane led Chicago against the Sharks last season, too, with four points (1g, 3a) in three meetings.
Patrick Marleau – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Joonas Donskoi – Logan Couture – Joel Ward
Mikkel Boedker – Chris Tierney – Matt Nieto
Micheal Haley – Danny O’Regan – Tommy Wingels
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Brenden Dillon – David Schlemko
Martin Jones (starter)
Vince Hinostroza – Jonathan Toews – Marian Hossa
Artemi Panarin – Artem Anisimov – Patrick Kane
Dennis Rasmussen – Marcus Kruger – Richard Panik
Ryan Hartman – Nick Schmaltz – Tyler Motte
Duncan Keith – Brian Campbell
Michal Kempny – Brent Seabrook
Gustav Forsling – Niklas Hjalmarsson
Sharks: Melker Karlsson (left foot/ankle area) and Tomas Hertl (lower body) are out.
Blackhawks: Trevor van Riemsdyk (upper body) is out.
“I never thought about it. I don’t think the guys in the room thought about it. I’m sure as a player that’s something that’s hard not to have on your mind. I thought he handled it exceptionally well, but I think it’s nice that that’s kind of put away and he can concentrate and put his full attention on the important things, which is winning games here.” – Pete DeBoer, on Brent Burns signing his contract yesterday