SAN JOSE – The Sharks’ penultimate game of 2016 was also their fourth straight win, 2-0 over the Flyers. Three takeaways from the game…
1 – Defense first
Aaron Dell was the game’s first star, and it was well deserved, but really he wasn’t tested all that much. The Flyers – suddenly scuffling for offense after a 10-game winning streak – managed only 21 shots and just a handful of scoring chances. Their top line, featuring Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek, was invisible other than Giroux hitting the post with a slap shot in the third period. They just couldn’t solve the Sharks’ shutdown pair of Marc-Edourad Vlasic and Justin Braun, which was out there against them on almost every shift.
"I thought we were doing a pretty good job of putting pucks in the right place to break them out, and it was a good effort all around,” Braun said.
Dell, like most goalies, admitted that not seeing a whole lot of rubber can be difficult.
“I think you really have to concentrate more when you're not getting a lot of work. I think it makes it a little tougher,” he said. “I think I had one chance every once in a while there."
The Sharks are second in the NHL in shots allowed per game (26.3).
2 – Power play gets one
Although the rejiggered top unit featuring Joel Ward in place of Patrick Marleau didn’t score a goal, the Sharks’ power play looked better than it has on most nights in recent weeks. Nick Schultz took a tripping minor five minutes into the first period, and the top unit did everything but score.
“It was definitely more dangerous,” Joe Pavelski said. “Right from that first time it felt like we were going to score.”
Marleau did, of course, pouncing on a loose puck in the crease on the team’s second power play later on in the opening frame.
“It was a good shot by Pickles and then [Kevin Labanc] I guess chipped it, and it was just kind of laying there,” Marleau said. “Guys were trying to crash the net, and I was able to get a good stick on it."
DeBoer indicated he would keep the two new units together for Saturday’s game in Los Angeles.
3 – Vlasic’s status
The evening would have been nearly perfect had Vlasic not taken a slap shot to the face in a scary moment with just 30 seconds left on the clock. It looks like he’ll miss at least Saturday’s game at Staples Center, and perhaps longer.
The Sharks are at least fortunate that Dylan DeMelo, who would get back in the lineup in place of Vlasic, shouldn’t be rusty. The 23-year-old played the three previous games before Friday, filling in for a healthy David Schlemko.
In the only game Vlasic missed so far this season, Dec. 13 in Toronto, the Sharks won, 3-2 in a shootout.