Programming note – Sharks-Flyers coverage starts Saturday at 9:30 a.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on CSN California
WHERE THEY STAND (through games of 2/9)
Sharks: 33-18-4, 70 points, 1st Pacific Division
Flyers: 26-22-7, 59 points, 5th Metropolitan Division
PREGAME NEWS AND NOTES
***It’s been a rough start to the Sharks’ four-game road trip, as they blew a three-goal third period lead in Buffalo on Tuesday in a 5-4 overtime loss, and got smoked by the Bruins on Thursday, 6-3.
Saturday’s game pits the Sharks’ struggling defense against a Flyers offense that has just one goal in its last three games. One of the teams will end a three-game losing skid.
The Sharks’ road trip concludes on Sunday in New Jersey. That will mark their final road game in the Eastern Conference this season.
***Rookie Kevin Labanc is back with the Sharks after getting in some practice time with the Barracuda, in place of Ryan Carpenter. That probably means that Tomas Hertl will move back to center, where he finished Thursday’s game in the middle of Timo Meier and Joel Ward.
Prior to the trip, Pete DeBoer expressed his desire to get Hertl back in the middle sooner than later.
“I think as his game continues to get back to where it needs to be, we’ll probably see a little more of [him at center],” DeBoer said last Sunday.
The Sharks canceled Friday’s practice, and there is no morning skate on Saturday, so we took our best guess on the lines below.
***Aaron Dell is likely to get at least one of the two games this weekend, and it could be on Saturday, as he recorded his first NHL shutout against the Flyers at SAP Center on Dec. 30. Dell replaced Martin Jones after the first period in Boston, when Jones was pulled for just the second time this season after allowing three goals on 12 shots.
The Sharks are a perfect 6-0 in the game following a three-goal-or-more loss.
KEEP AN EYE ON...
Sharks: Timo Meier. The rookie forward scored a late goal against Boston while playing with Tomas Hertl, and should have been credited with a goal in Buffalo on Tuesday, too. He continues to rack up the shots on goal, and has at least two shots in five of his last six games, with 17 total over that span.
Flyers: Shayne Gostisbehere. It’s been a rough sophomore campaign for the Calder Trophy finalist from a year ago, as Gostisbehere was a healthy scratch for three straight games before returning on Thursday. He has managed 22 points (4g, 18a) in 49 games from the blue line this season.
Patrick Marleau – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Kevin Labanc – Logan Couture – Mikkel Boedker
Timo Meier – Tomas Hertl – Joel Ward
Micheal Haley – Chris Tierney – Melker Karlsson
Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Brenden Dillon – David Schlemko
Brayden Schenn – Claude Giroux – Wayne Simmonds
Jordan Weal – Sean Couturier – Jakub Voracek
Michael Raffl – Nick Cousins – Matt Read
Chris VandeVelde – Pierre-Edouard Bellemare – Roman Lyubimov
Ivan Provorov – Andrew MacDonald
Mark Streit – Shayne Gostisbehere
Brandon Manning – Radko Gudas
Michal Neuvirth (starter)
Sharks: Joonas Donskoi (upper body) and Dylan DeMelo (broken wrist) are out.
Flyers: Michael Del Zotto (lower body) and Travis Konecny (knee/ankle) are out.
“It’s on us. We can play better. These were games that were definitely winnable. We get another chance on [Saturday].” – Joe Pavelski, after the Sharks’ back-to-back losses to Buffalo and Boston