The one late-night game in the NHL on Monday looks like a mismatch when the San Jose Sharks visit the Vegas Golden Knights as the home side is the biggest favorite on the William Hill Sportsbook NHL board at -235. The big item from this matchup, though, is that 41-year-old Sharks forward Patrick Marleau will pass the legendary Gordie Howe as the all-time games played leader in NHL history. They both have played 1,767. Howe also played 419 games in the WHA, which don't count toward his NHL mark.
Marleau will be honored Monday night during an on-ice ceremony at the first TV timeout with his wife and four sons on hand. The Mercury News brought up an interesting fact: Marleau was born on Sept. 15, 1979. Had he been born just one day later he would not have been eligible for the 1997 NHL Draft because he wouldn't have met the league's minimum age requirement. Thus, he would have one fewer year of NHL games on his resume.
Marleau, from Saskatchewan, was the No. 2 overall pick in the 1997 draft by the Sharks. He debuted in the 1997-98 season and stayed with San Jose until the 2017-18 campaign when he left for Toronto. He played there two seasons, had a quick pit stop in Pittsburgh in 2019-20 and returned to San Jose.
No question that Marleau is a first-ballot Hall of Famer with 1,196 points (50th all-time) and 566 goals (23rd). He has made three All-Star teams and won Olympic gold medals for Canada in 2010 and 2014. Marleau has a consecutive games streak of 896, last missing one when he was 29.
The one thing Marleau has never done is hoist the Stanley Cup, and he's not going to this season, either as San Jose has just 40 points and most likely will miss the playoffs. Marleau isn't planning on retiring, though. The Sharks enter Monday on a five-game losing streak and haven't scored more than two goals in any of those.
Vegas is tied for the West Division lead with Colorado at 64 points and is a +750 third favorite at William Hill to win its first-ever Stanley Cup. The Knights are on a six-game winning streak and are 5-0 vs. San Jose this season.
It's the second of a back-to-back for Vegas and thus should be Robin Lehner (10-1-2, 2.13) in net against the Sharks' Martin Jones (15-12-2, 3.25). There don't appear to be any major injuries on either side. Knights winger Reilly Smith left Sunday's game against Anaheim and is day-to-day. He has nine goals and seven assists on the year.
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