SAN JOSE –- For the second-straight year, the Sharks are hosting the Montreal Canadiens just a few hours after the NHL’s trade deadline.
It’s a drastically different situation than 12 months ago, when the Sharks were clearly in sell mode during a transitional and dysfunctional season in which the Stanley Cup was unrealistic.
Now, though, they’re adding pieces in the hopes of making a deep playoff run, and they’re in a decent position to do so. According to SportsClubStats.com, San Jose has a 99.7 percent chance of making it to the postseason, as it enjoys a 12-point lead on fourth-place Vancouver with 21 games to go.
After acquiring Roman Polak, Nick Spaling, James Reimer and Jeremy Morin for some spare parts and draft picks, no further moves were made on Monday.
“For the guys coming in, we’re trying to make our group as competitive as possible headed into the playoffs, and I think everyone gets that,” coach Pete DeBoer said, a few hours before the noon deadline.
One of those new guys, Reimer, has still not yet arrived to San Jose as his immigration issues get worked out, so it will be Martin Jones making his ninth-straight start on Monday against Montreal.
It will be the goaltender’s 17th start in the last 18 games, as well as his second back-to-back in less than two weeks.
In his last nine starts, Jones is 6-2-1 with a 1.87 goals-against average and .934 save percentage. He helped keep the Sharks to within one goal on Sunday in Vancouver when the rest of the club was generally lethargic for two periods before exploding for four goals in the third period of a 4-1 win.
DeBoer was pleased with his team hanging around on Sunday before finally breaking through for a key two points.
“Those are exactly the kind of games when we talked about foundation in training camp,” DeBoer said. “We’re not down 3-0 or 4-0 and you don’t have a chance, and the game is lost. We were only down 1-0 because of our foundation and some good goaltending. Gave ourselves a chance to come back in the third when we did get our legs.”
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It appears as if Mike Brown will be in the Canadiens lineup on Monday, as Montreal claimed the fourth liner from the waiver wire earlier in the day.
[RELATED: Sharks waive Mike Brown]
According to J-F Chaumont of the Journal de Montreal, Brown was slotted on the fourth line with Torrey Mitchell and Michael McCarron at the Canadiens’ morning skate at SAP Center.
Like Alex Stalock, dealt to Toronto in the Reimer deal, Brown was a popular guy in the Sharks’ dressing room. Now, he’s gone.
DeBoer said: “[Brown and Stalock] are great guys, great teammates, well-liked and well-respected. They are both going to get an opportunity to show that they can earn another NHL contract next year, where here down the stretch they might not have. I think it’s a positive for both of those guys, for sure.”
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The injury-riddled Canadiens are five points out of a playoff spot, and DeBoer expects them to play a desperate game on Monday night, much like Vancouver did for stretches on Sunday. Montreal is 3-0-1 in its last four games as it begins a four-game road trip against the three California clubs and Winnipeg.
“Like Vancouver showed last night, everybody is desperate this time of year,” DeBoer said. “You’re desperate for different reasons: either to make the playoffs, to better your positioning in the playoffs, or to show that you belong in the organization going into next year.”
DeBoer was pleased that Sunday night’s Kings-Ducks game ended in regulation, rather than it being a three-point game. Anaheim beat Los Angeles, 4-2.
“I think that’s all you’re hoping for. The reality is neither of those two teams is losing very much. We’ve got to keep winning games.”
The Ducks have won eight straight, while the Kings are 4-1-0 in their last five.