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Gameday: Golden Knights take on Sharks in potential playoff preview

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If the playoffs started today, it would be a Vegas-San Jose matchup.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Vegas Golden Knights at San Jose Sharks Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

As it’s been for the last month or so, the Golden Knights are firmly entrenched in third place in the Pacific Division. The race at the top between the San Jose Sharks and the Calgary Flames has tightened, with the Flames sitting just one point ahead of the Sharks. As it stands right now, the Golden Knights would face the Sharks in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. If the Golden Knights lose tonight, then the Sharks will leap frog the Flames for first in the division and clinch a playoff berth in the process.

There will surely be some back and forth in the standings for the next two weeks, but the Golden Knights could very well be facing their first round opponent tonight. It’s not mathematically impossible for the Golden Knights to finish second place and claim home-ice advantage, either. The Knights have faced the Sharks twice so far this season, beating them 6-0 and losing 3-2. Both of those games were played at T-Mobile Arena, whereas tonight’s game will be in the dreaded shark tank at the SAP Centre. After a six game win streak, the Sharks have dropped their last two contests.

Subban time?

Malcolm Subban was solemnly used this season, but he may be called upon heavily to close out the season. Subban’s played two of the last three games for Vegas, and after winning against the Edmonton Oilers last night coach Gerard Gallant announced that Marc-Andre Fleury is day-to-day and will not travel with the team to San Jose. There has been no announcement of Fleury’s injury or when he may have sustained it, but if there is any lingering issue with him it might be wise to give him as much rest as possible until the playoffs begin.

This means that we will likely see a healthy dose of Subban in the final 10 games. He’s started just 12 games this season, and has compiled a 5-7-0 record paired with a 3.12 GAA and ,899 save percentage. While his peripheral stats may not look great at a glance, he’s actually played much better than they suggest. Subban had a rough start to the season, going 0-5 in his first five starts. Since then, he’s gone 5-2 and has allowed three goals or less in five of those starts.

Note: At the time of this writing, Gallant has not confirmed who is starting.

Players to watch

Mark Stone: It’s no coincidence that the Golden Knights are 8-1-0 since acquiring Mark Stone at the trade deadline. He’s helped the Knights immensely defensively, chips in a ton on offence and has a corsi rating that’s through the roof. He’s currently riding a five-game point streak where he’s piled up three goals and three assists, and will look to keep things going tonight.

Brent Burns: Burns is quietly putting together one of the best seasons from a defence man we’ve seen in quite some time, with 13 goals and 74 points. This puts him on pace for 84 points, which would be the most by a blueliner since his teammate Erik Karlsson (who is luckily out of the lineup tonight) put up 82 in 2015-16. Burns has been quiet recently with just one assist in his last five games, and will try to get his Sharks back in the win column tonight.

How to watch

Time: 7:30 p.m. PT

TV: AT&T SportsNet, NBCSCA

Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM/1340 AM