PHILADELPHIA – A miserable first period gave way to better play by the Sharks in the second and third periods, but they still couldn’t find a way to beat the Flyers at Wells Fargo Center on Saturday afternoon in a 2-1 overtime loss. Here are our three takeaways, as the losing skid hits four…
1 – Hertl line effective
Probably the Sharks’ best line of the evening at even strength was Tomas Hertl centering Timo Meier and Joel Ward. A long shift in the offensive end by that line eventually led to Brandon Manning holding Joel Ward, and Patrick Marleau’s game-tying power play goal soon followed. Hertl, starting a game at center for the first time since his injury, had the Sharks’ best even strength scoring chance about four minutes into the second but was stopped by Michal Neuvirth in front of the net.
The trio was put together late in the Bruins game, generating a late score by Meier.
“We just tried to get inside their pressure a little bit on the forecheck,” Ward said. “Just trying to read off each other. Hertl and Timo are big bodies that can skate really well, so for them to get inside pressure is helpful for us.”
They have the capability to be a very dangerous third line, and I would imagine they stay together for the Devils game, even if Logan Couture is ready to return.
2 – Dell proving he belongs
The Sharks don’t get a point on Friday without Aaron Dell’s 33-save performance. He was particularly good in the first period when San Jose was lethargic in front of him.
It’s debatable whether the Sharks should seek out a more experienced backup goalie before the March 1 trade deadline. Dell keeps making his case to the Martin Jones’ permanent backup stronger and stronger, though, at least in coach Pete DeBoer’s view.
“I don’t know what else he could do to show that he’s an NHL caliber goalie so far. Those are decisions that Doug [Wilson] makes, but in my mind that’s not an issue right now for us,” DeBoer said.
Dell said: “I feel like I get a little better every game I play. I think that comes with the experience and the confidence from the guys in me, and my confidence in them.”
3 – Not matching the opposition’s energy
The last two games the Sharks have played, losses to Boston and now Philadelphia, have been against opponents fighting for their playoff lives. It’s been pretty evident which team has wanted it more, and it hasn’t been San Jose.
The next few games before the bye week aren’t exactly against rival opponents, either – the Devils on Sunday are followed by games with the Panthers, Arizona and Boston again. The Sharks are going to have to start generating their own energy against teams that are trying to remain in the playoffs, or are playing for jobs next season. That’s something they’ve struggled with in past seasons.