Sharks

Sharks vs. Coyotes watch guide: Projected lines and defensive pairs

dilloncoyotesus.jpg
USATSI

Sharks vs. Coyotes watch guide: Projected lines and defensive pairs

The Sharks get one last chance to right the ship ahead of the holiday break as they end their weekend back-to-back hosting the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday.

[RELATED: How to watch Sharks-Coyotes on MyTeams app]

San Jose received some rough news on Sunday morning, learning that defenseman Erik Karlsson was suspended for two games. Karlsson was suspended by the NHL Department of Player for a hit to the head on Los Angeles Kings winger Austin Wagner.

The hit occurred during the second period on Saturday in the Sharks' 3-2 overtime loss to the Kings.

Arizona enters Sunday’s contest on the tail end of a back-to-back, snapping a three-game losing streak on Saturday with a 6-4 victory at home against the Colorado Avalanche. The two points give the Coyotes 32 points in the Pacific Division standings, just three points ahead of the aforementioned Kings.

This is the second time this season the Sharks and Coyotes have met. In their previous contest in Arizona, the Sharks skated away with a 5-3 victory.

Sharks projected lines and pairs

Evander Kane – Joe Pavelski – Joonas Donskoi

Tomas Hertl – Logan Couture – Timo Meier

Marcus Sorensen – Joe Thornton – Kevin Labanc

Melker Karlsson – Barclay Goodrow – Lukas Radil

Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun

Radim Simek – Brent Burns

Brenden Dillon – Tim Heed

Aaron Dell – confirmed starter

Martin Jones

Coyotes projected lines and pairs

Alex Galchenyuk – Nick Schmaltz – Christian Fischer

Richard Panik – Derek Stepan – Clayton Keller

Nick Cousins – Brad Richardson – Josh Archibald

Lawson Crouse – Mario Kempe – Conor Garland

Oliver Ekman-Larsson – Alex Goligoski

Niklas Hjalmarsson – Jakob Chychrun

Kevin Connauton – Ilya Lyubushkin

Darcy Kuemper – projected starter

Adin Hill

Watch Sharks' Joe Thornton, Capitals' Tom Wilson talk trash on benches

jumbojoeap.jpg
AP

Watch Sharks' Joe Thornton, Capitals' Tom Wilson talk trash on benches

The ice got a little hot Tuesday night in San Jose. Towards the end of the Sharks' 5-2 blowout loss against the Capitals, tempers began to flare. 

Sharks winger Evander Kane was ejected for elbowing Washington defenseman Radko Gudas in the head with slightly over five minutes left in the third period. Gudas' teammates Tom Wilson and Alex Ovechkin each took exception, with Wilson hitting Kane. 

Kane and Wilson were seen chirping all the way to their respective benches, with Kane exiting the game.

It didn't stop there, too. Sharks center Joe Thornton chimed in before Wilson hit him with a "kiss the ring" comeback. 

[RELATED: Kane fined $5K for elbowing Gudas in Sharks' blowout loss]

Kane avoided suspension, but received the maximum fine of $5,000 for his hit on Gudas. 

Related Content from TMZ Sports

Drake trolls Joel Embiid at Raptors game with championship ring
Myles Garrett appears at charity event after NFL suspension
Jerry Jones says he won't fire Jason Garrett during season
Carmelo Anthony FaceTimes son after huge game with Blazers
 

Sharks must handle challenging road trip better than last time around

sharkstestap.jpg
AP

Sharks must handle challenging road trip better than last time around

Just four days into December, the Sharks are facing a new level of adversity. They suffered a disappointing loss to the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night and are dealing with some injuries at forward that are keeping the position in flux.

To top it all off, San Jose is about to begin a four-game road trip, three games of which are against Eastern Conference teams. And the last time the Sharks went on a roadie out east, things didn't exactly go well.

In order for the Sharks to keep their good fortunes going, they must pass this test.

"Good teams, tough buildings, a big test," head coach Peter DeBoer said after Tuesday's loss when asked about the upcoming trip. "Our last time on an extended trip we didn't handle it well. So, hopefully, we're in a different place this time."

When you look at the big picture, the Sharks are in a better place than they were at the end of October, when they went 1-3-1 on their east-coast swing. San Jose staged a big rebound in November, showing it could win games in different ways and stand toe-to-toe with just about anyone. After going 4-8-1 in October, the Sharks went 11-4-0 in November and reinserted themselves back into the pack with the other competitive Pacific Division teams.

Nevertheless, the Sharks' upcoming trip -- which kicks off Thursday in Carolina against the Hurricanes and includes a back-to-back against the Lightning and Panthers -- isn't going to be a cakewalk. After the rough outing San Jose's defense had Tuesday against the Capitals, the trip looks even more daunting.

"It's not getting any easier," Brenden Dillon admitted Tuesday. "We're going into some tough buildings. A couple of back-to-backs here with Tampa and Florida. I think we're seeing if we don't play to our identity, if we don't play the right way, what happens."

The Sharks' defense isn't the only area of concern following the loss to Washington. San Jose was starting to see some production from its bottom six at the end of November, but injuries to Tomas Hertl and Antti Suomela are forcing the Sharks to shuffle up their lines yet again. Even with fourth-liners Dylan Gambrell and Noah Gregor finding their stride and contributing more, San Jose's mission to have a four-line team on the ice every night remains an ongoing project.

[RELATED: Kane fined $5K for elbowing Gudas in Sharks' blowout loss]

This isn't to say that the Sharks can't rebound from their loss to the Capitals and have a successful road trip. Their resilience was on display just last week when they bounced back from a tough loss to the Jets to win back-to-back games against the Kings and Coyotes. Plus, Carolina is the only team on the trip that currently has more points than San Jose, and the Hurricanes have lost three of their last four games, including a 2-0 shutout at the hands of the Boston Bruins on Tuesday night. 

Still, though, the Sharks can't afford to play as they did against the Caps on their upcoming road trip. San Jose is about to encounter a major test, and class is in session starting Thursday.