Rogers' 10* NHL PLAY OF THE DAY >> SIZZLING 13-4 L5 Days! 3-0 NHL Since Break!
San Jose vs. Columbus,
02/02/2018 19:00 EDT,
Score: 3 - 1
Total: +115/+5½ Over
The set-up: The 261-6-8 San Jose Sharks have lost four in a row, a stretch coinciding with veteran center Joe Thornton suffering a serious knee injury. Thornton was hurt in an overtime loss to Winnipeg on Jan. 23 and the Sharks have followed with three more losses, the most recent being a 2-1 shootout loss at Detroit this past Wednesday. San Jose makes its third stop of a five-game road trip tonight when the Sharks visit the 27-19-4 Columbus Blue Jackets. Columbus is also coming off a shootout defeat (3-2 at home to Minnesota), when it failed to score more than two goals in regulation for the 10th time in the last 11 games.
San Jose: "We've played three games without (Thornton) and we've lost all three and gotten one point. That has to stop now," San Jose forward Logan Couture said. "He's a great player but we've got to find a way to start winning hockey games without him." Without the 13-year veteran Thornton, the young Sharks will take a committee approach. They have seven double-figures goal scorers, led by Logan Couture's 21. Tomas Hertl is next with 14, followed by Chris Tierney with 12, Timo Meier with 11, and Joe Pavelski and Joonas Donskoi with 10 apiece. Defenseman Brent Burns had a team-leading 42 points. Goaltender Martin Jones was among the players who said they have to "step up" in Thornton's absence, and he did his part by making a season-high 43 saves against Detroit. Jones has struggled through an erratic, injury-plagued campaign, but coach Peter DeBoer said he has no concerns about him entering the stretch run. “I don’t even think that’s a question,” DeBoer said. “I think he’s going to do that. I think we’re going to get great goaltending the whole second half here.”
Columbus: The Blue Jackets own the league's worst power play at 14.1 percent, although there has been an uptick in production with six goals in 19 chances over the past eight games. Columbus has played in fits and starts during the first 50 games of the season. After an early six-game winning streak, the team has leveled off dramatically and fallen back in the Eastern Conference standings (currently own the first of two wild card spots). After the Blue Jackets suffered a 3-2 shootout loss at home Tuesday night to the Minnesota Wild, coach John Tortorella worked the team hard in practice to prepare for the final 32 regular-season games in 65 days.
The pick: Both teams will be attempting to figure out how to pick up a win when they meet tonight at Nationwide Arena. and while neither is showing much scoring 'punch,' my gut says the "over" is the way to go. Make the Over a 10* play.