The Sharks will not have Erik Karlsson or Tomas Hertl for Game 6 tonight, and Joe Pavelski is a game-time decision. By the low, low standards set by a disastrous Game 5, the news could be worse. Joe Pavelski could be definitely out instead of just possibly out and definitely hampered. Joonas Donskoi could have gotten it worse when he took a puck to the face. Timo Meier could be hurt instead of merely skipping an apparently optional skate. The forward and goaltender who got into a fight in practice this morning could have been players that matter. Logan Couture could have fallen through a manhole. Peter DeBoer could have announced he’s stepping aside in favor of S.J. Sharkie.
But it is still very bad news. Neither Karlsson, slowed by an apparent groin injury that kept the blueliner sidelined for a good chunk of the regular season and acted up again in this series, nor Hertl, who definitely has a concussion even though the team won’t admit it until after the season, even made the trip to St. Louis. Pavelski—who might very well be trying to play through his second concussion of the playoffs—is there, but a big question mark, even if he does even up dressing.
DeBoer really, really didn’t want to talk about Pavelski’s availability or what these absences mean for the Sharks’ hopes of staying alive and forcing the series to head back home.
Tim Heed and Marcus Sorensen will dress in place of Karlsson and Hertl, and if Pavelski can’t go, Dylan Gambrell will join the lineup in his place. All distasteful options for the Sharks, who even with all the big names in the lineup have struggled to keep pace with a Blues offense hitting its stride at the right time. But stranger, less likely things have happened (in this postseason and in favor of this team!) than the shorthanded Sharks stealing a single game tonight would be. And after that, who knows? This is a team that has thrived on Game 7 weirdness.