SAN JOSE -– The Calgary Flames may be struggling this season, sitting seven points out of a playoff spot with just 30 to go. But if there were ever a proverbial trap game for the Sharks, who have been playing an impressive brand of hockey for more than a month now, this would be it.
-Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Lance Bouma were all healthy scratches for the Flames’ last game against Toronto due to showing up late for practice. They should be extra motivated.
-The Flames are currently on their dads trip, so, really, the whole team should have some extra juice.
-The Sharks are returning from a long road trip that included a huge victory in Chicago on Tuesday. That first game back at home is typically a difficult one.
-For the first time in 26 games, the Sharks will be missing a top-six defenseman, as Brenden Dillon is out with an upper body injury.
[RELATED: Sharks get 'good news' on injured Dillon]
Coach Pete DeBoer is well aware of the circumstances.
“There are some traps there we have to avoid,” he said.
Perhaps that’s part of the reason he’ll go with Alex Stalock in net for the first time since Jan. 18, to help motivate his troops to play a tight defensive game in front of a popular teammate that has struggled for much of this season. Martin Jones has played the last eight Sharks games.
“Jonesy got on a real roll, and the games mapped out that we didn’t have to overtax him in my mind to keep playing him,” DeBoer said. “This is probably a little later than I anticipated [Stalock] getting his next start, but for a good reason. I expect he’ll be really good tonight.”
[KURZ: Morning Skate: Stalock, Tennyson in for Sharks vs Calgary]
Stalock, who relieved Jones against the Flames on Dec. 8 and allowed one goal on 19 shots in a 4-2 Sharks loss, figures that the Calgary players that were punished on Tuesday will have their game legs. Monahan and Gaudreau, in particular, drive the Flames’ offense as their two top point producers.
“We’ll see how they react. A young group of guys that comes in a little late. It happens. … I’m sure they’ll come out ready to go,” Stalock said.
“There’s no doubt guys playing guilty it’s usually their best game, so we know they are going to come out ready to play,” he said. “At the same time, this is about us. I feel that if our game and if we continue to put it in the right place regardless of what they’re doing, we’re going to be OK.”
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Stalock has played five games against the Flames in his career, but all of them have been in Calgary. He’s 1-2-1 with a 2.15 goals-against average and .910 save percentage in that span.
In his career, Stalock's home numbers are much better than his road numbers. At SAP Center, Stalock is 11-7-3 with a 1.86 GAA and .925 SP, while he’s 13-12-3 with a 2.65 GAA and .905 SP on the road.
Karri Ramo goes for Calgary. He’s 1-4-0 with a 2.56 GAA and .917 SP in his last five games, and 1-1-0 with a 3.58 GAA and .863 SP against the Sharks this season.