The San Jose Sharks aren’t getting any reinforcements off the COVID protocol anytime soon. John MacLean, who is filling in as head coach while Bob Boughner recovers, confirmed to reporters including Kevin Kurz of The Athletic today that no one on the protocol will join them for the upcoming road trip through Western Canada. That includes Boughner himself, meaning it continues to be MacLean’s bench for the next few games. Anyone cleared in the meantime is expected to join the team on Friday when they arrive in Colorado for a weekend matchup against the Avalanche.
The team recalled several players from the minor leagues today as they prepare to face Calgary and Winnipeg this week. Those are both teams ahead of the Sharks in the Western Conference standings, with the Flames having only lost a single time in regulation this season. Without the help of Kevin Labanc, Erik Karlsson, Timo Meier, Jacob Middleton, Matthew Nieto, Radim Simek, and Marc-Edouard Vlasic, it will be a tough test for the Pacific Division club. Curtis Pashelka of the Bay Area News Group tweets that everyone but Karlsson and Middleton did appear on the ice at today’s skate, though they are still not allowed to travel to Canada for the trip.
San Jose has been better than many expected early on, with a 6-4-1 record through 11 games despite major COVID-related absences. Quite a bit of that success could be attributed to the outstanding play of James Reimer, who has a .946 save percentage through six appearances. The team will go with Adin Hill tomorrow night, however, who hasn’t been nearly as good through his own six appearances, allowing 17 goals on 149 shots (.886 sv%).
With so many absences, some players have had to carry even more responsibility for the Sharks to stay competitive. Logan Couture played more than 23 minutes on Saturday night, while Mario Ferraro and Brent Burns both eclipsed the 30-minute mark (Ferraro had 31:12!). While that game included a full five-minute overtime before ending in a shootout, it’s been a busy stretch for a player like Burns, who hasn’t seen less than 26 minutes in a game since October 28 and is now averaging 27:08 on the season, the highest of his career.