SAN JOSE -– James Reimer will make his fourth start for the Sharks when they host the Coyotes on Sunday night in the second of a back-to-back.
There will be no other lineup changes, as Marc-Edouard Vlasic will miss his second straight with a lower body injury and Matt Nieto is sidelined indefinitely with a hand injury.
Reimer is 2-1-0 with a 1.69 GAA and .937 SP with San Jose. DeBoer is sticking with his plan of getting Martin Jones some added rest before the playoffs begin in a little more than three weeks.
After Sunday, Jones will have started just five of the previous nine games. The expected playoff starter is 19-6-2 with a 1.98 GAA and .928 SP since Jan. 9.
“Fatigue is not going to be an issue or a reason to potentially have any dip in his play,” DeBoer said of Jones. “His play has been at a high level for a long time, and we want to keep it there.”
Mike Smith will go for Arizona. He allowed one goal on 28 Sharks shots in a 3-1 Arizona win at Gila River Arena on Thursday, but had the night off for the Coyotes’ 2-0 loss to Tampa Bay on Saturday night.
In his last 13 starts against San Jose, Smith has been brilliant with a 9-2-2 record, 1.66 GAA, .954 SP and four shutouts.
“For me, he’s the best puck handling goalie in the league. I thought that we allowed him to handle it way too much last game, so we have to clean that up,” DeBoer said. “He’s an elite guy. When you have those type of guys you’ve got to try and get as much traffic as possible.”
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DeBoer used the phrase “out of sync” regarding his top power play unit after Saturday’s win over the Rangers. For the second time in three games, it was the second unit that got on the board with Joonas Donskoi’s slick assist to Joel Ward.
The Sharks’ top unit has just two power play goals in the last eight games. Time to make some changes, or let them figure it out?
“They’ve been consistently good for a long time that you want to give them the benefit of the doubt that they can work their way out of it, and I believe they will,” DeBoer said.
Donskoi also scored a power play goal last Tuesday against Boston, a third period game-winner, with Ward assisting.
“We feel confident each guy can make plays, and we kind of know our roles and what we’re up against time-wise,” Ward said on Saturday. “You need to have two good units – especially in the playoffs and down the stretch – to contribute. If we keep chipping away and relieve a little bit of pressure off the big guys, it gives us a chance to win a lot of games.”
Donskoi said: “We’ve gotten a little bit better the last couple of games.”
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File this one under leftovers from Saturday: DeBoer was admiring of Tomas Hertl’s game against the Rangers, as the young forward posted three assists and made perhaps the most vital play of the night when he stormed around Dan Girardi, went hard to the net, and Joe Thornton slammed in the rebound for the game-winner early in the third.
Hertl also scored a goal on Thursday in Arizona, immediately after he was removed from the top line for a shift.
“I think he’s learning to use his size and the power that he’s got on a more consistent basis,” DeBoer said. “I think playing with [Thornton and Joe Pavelski] is invaluable for him because they keep reminding him of that. When they don’t remind him, I remind him. He’s a very intriguing young guy because he has a high ceiling.”
And how does DeBoer remind him?
“We move him down a few shifts [to] a different line until he gets his game back.”
Hertl brings a four-game point streak into Sunday’s game, with one goal and five assists over that span.
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The Sharks have a chance to advance their home record above .500 for the first time since Oct. 24. They are 15-15-3 in their own building, where they play the next five in a row and eight of the final 11.
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"This is going to be a building we want to win in the rest of the year,” Chris Tierney said. “It's going to be key in the playoffs to get wins here. Hopefully we'll keep trending the right way."