The Sharks may already have three regular-season contests under their belt, but the team's starting lineup will have a slightly different look on Tuesday as winger Evander Kane returns to game action. And, needless to say, San Jose hopes that Kane's return to the lineup will be part of the jumpstart it needs to get win No. 1 on the season.
Kane was suspended for the first three games of the regular season after a debacle in the Sharks' preseason finale against the Vegas Golden Knights. While San Jose no doubt missed Kane's grit and physicality in the first week of the season, the team is also hoping he can offer a much-needed boost to a struggling offense, which has only scored three goals in as many games.
As head coach Peter DeBoer told Curtis Pashelka of the San Jose Mercury News on Monday, he also wants to see how having Kane back in the lineup affects the Sharks defensively, given the team has allowed 12 goals through the first three games.
"He’s a very good NHL player, helps offensively for us, but he’s also a reliable guy,” DeBoer explained. “He knows how to play both ends of the rink. Right now, through three games, we’re doing a lot of teaching. The way we want to play as a five-man unit is if one guy is out of place, then things break down.”
It doesn't hurt that Kane has also played well against the Predators in the past. The gritty winger has 13 points (3 goals, 10 assists) and is a plus-3 through 18 career games against the tough Nashville squad.
Unfortunately, even with Kane's return, San Jose will still be short one of its starting left wings for Tuesday night's contest. Marcus Sorensen is now out of the lineup and considered day-to-day after he collided hard into the boards during Saturday's game against the Anaheim Ducks and has to go through concussion protocol.
The Sharks have yet to put their expected starting roster on the ice -- in addition to being without Kane for three games, San Jose was without Erik Karlsson for the season opener in Las Vegas and have been shuffling its defensive pairings due to injuries.
Nevertheless, the Sharks don't have room to dwell on who isn't in their lineup Tuesday. They need to get into the win column for the first time this season. At least having a veteran like Kane back in a lineup featuring a handful of young players still learning the ropes should help.
"We’ve got some young players that are learning the systems, and that takes some time," DeBoer continued on Monday. "We’re dealing with a little bit of that. But dealing with a veteran guy that knows what he’s doing out there and where he’s supposed to be is important.”
The Sharks are 36-29-2-6 all-time through 73 regular-season meetings versus the Predators. They have a 14-19-1-2 record all-time at Bridgestone Arena.