Programming note – Sharks-Flyers coverage starts tonight at 6:30 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on CSN California
WHERE THEY STAND
Sharks: 22-12-1, 45 points, 1st Pacific Division
Flyers: 20-13-4, 44 points, 5th Metropolitan Division
PREGAME NEWS AND NOTES
***The Sharks have won three in a row – the last two of which have come in overtime – and seven of their last eight games headed into tonight’s matchup. Brent Burns’ OT goal in Anaheim on Tuesday pushed San Jose to a 3-2 victory in its first game after Christmas.
San Jose had two days to practice after the Anaheim game, which wasn’t their best effort despite the win. Prior to that, the team had just one standard off-day practice in the previous 16 days.
“I’ll be interested to see how our legs and stuff are tonight. I would hope they’re good,” Pete DeBoer said. “We had the break, and we went really hard two days ago. Yesterday we backed off a little bit, but it was nice getting some practice in and actually getting some work done for the first time in awhile.”
Philadelphia is 1-3-1 in its last five, but won 10 straight before that. The Flyers have lost their last two in regulation, including a 6-3 defeat in St. Louis on Wednesday that kicked off a three-game road trip.
***Aaron Dell will making his fifth start of the season against his former college coach at the University of North Dakota, Dave Hakstol. The Sharks backup is 3-1-0 with a 2.16 goals-against average and .926 save percentage in his first NHL season.
From 2009-12 at North Dakota, Dell was 49-20-5 with a 2.15 GAA and .912 SP, including a school record 30 wins in 2010-11.
“A little extra motivation,” Dell said of facing Hakstol. “He recruited me to UND, and it would be a little sweet to beat him after that.”
David Schlemko will also get back in the lineup on the blue line, in place of Dylan DeMelo. The defenseman came out under curious circumstances three games ago, while DeMelo played well in his place in three straight wins.
“We were winning, and that’s just how it works – you get out of the lineup for a night and someone comes in and does the job, you’ve got to wait until another opportunity arises,” DeBoer said. “We felt that it was important to get him back in tonight.”
Schlemko is a little more familiar with Philadelphia than most of his teammates, after spending last season in New Jersey.
“They definitely play an Eastern-style game. They’re not afraid to cheat a little bit and go for the offense, but they still play hard and they’ve got a lot of talent,” he said.
***The Sharks won both meetings last season, including one year ago to the day at SAP Center, 4-2. The Flyers have beaten the Sharks just once in the last 19 head-to-head meetings, and San Jose brings a five-game winning streak against Philadelphia into the first of two games between the clubs. They meet against at Wells Fargo Center on Feb. 11.
KEEP AN EYE ON...
Sharks: Paul Martin. After a slow start in which Martin was starting to look, well, old, the 35-year-old has three goals in his last eight games, and has been a minus player just once in his last 13. The former Devils and Penguins defenseman has plenty of experience against the Flyers, with 23 points (3g, 20a) in 60 career games.
Flyers: Wayne Simmonds. The big winger leads the Flyers with 17 goals, and is tied for second in scoring with 31 points. Simmonds is especially effective on the power play where he has eight goals, tied for second in the NHL, on Philadelphia’s eighth-ranked unit.
Patrick Marleau – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Kevin Labanc – Logan Couture – Mikkel Boedker
Timo Meier – Chris Tierney – Joonas Donskoi
Melker Karlsson – Micheal Haley – Joel Ward
Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon – David Schlemko
Aaron Dell (starter)
Michael Raffl – Claude Giroux – Jakub Voracek
Taylor Leier – Brayden Schenn – Wayne Simmonds
Nick Cousins – Sean Couturier – Dale Weise
Chris VandeVelde – Pierre-Edouard Bellemare – Boyd Gordon
Ivan Provorov – Andrew MacDonald
Brandon Manning – Shayne Gostisbehere
Michael Del Zotto – Nick Schultz
Steve Mason (starter)
Sharks: Tomas Hertl (right knee sprain) is out.
Flyers: Radko Gudas (lower body), Michael Neuvirth (sprained knee), Matt Read (oblique) and Mark Streit (shoulder) are out.
“He gave me a chance there, and he let me kind of grow as a player and as a person. I think that opportunity was huge in my career. I got to balance school and hockey and everything with the travel and whatnot. I think that helped me a lot to be ready to play pro.” – Aaron Dell, on Flyers coach Dave Hakstol, who had Dell at the University of North Dakota