NHL Gameday: Dell likely to debut as Sharks visit Isles

NHL Gameday: Dell likely to debut as Sharks visit Isles

Programming note: Sharks-Islanders coverage starts today at 3:30om with Sharks Pregame Live on CSN California.


Sharks: 2-1-0, 4 points, 3rd Pacific Division
Islanders: 1-2-0, 2 points, 6th Metropolitan Division


*Sharks backup goalie Aaron Dell is likely to make his NHL debut on Tuesday night, although there was no morning skate for the Sharks, so nothing has been made official just yet. The 27-year-old Alberta native played in two preseason games, posting a 2.48 goals-against average and .894 save percentage (five goals allowed on 47 shots). 

*The Sharks are 1-1 on their current five-game road trip, which continues in Pittsburgh on Thursday with a Stanley Cup Final rematch. New York will play its second of a five-game homestand, beating the Ducks in overtime on Sunday in its Barclays Center opener, 3-2.

*Tonight marks the first back-to-back situation for San Jose after a loss to the Rangers on Monday, 7-4. The Sharks have 16 back-to-backs this season, but don't have another until Nov. 25-26, when they host the Islanders and Ducks on consecutive days at SAP Center.


Sharks: Brent Burns. The defenseman is the Sharks’ leading scorer with six points (3g, 3a), tying him for second in the NHL. At the same time, the defensive zone miscues that plagued Burns prior to last season’s second half are reappearing. Prior to the pair of late empty net markers by the Rangers on Monday, Burns was on the ice for four of San Jose’s goals and three of New York's.

Islanders: Brock Nelson. The Isles’ left wing has one point in each of the New York’s first three games (2g, 1a) while centering the second line. The 25-year-old, a late first-round pick in 2010, is coming off a career high 26 goals last season.


Tomas Hertl – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Mikkel Boedker – Logan Couture – Joonas Donskoi
Patrick Marleau – Chris Tierney – Joel Ward
Matt Nieto – Tommy Wingels – Melker Karlsson

Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Brenden Dillon – David Schlemko

Aaron Dell (likely starter)
Martin Jones

Andrew Ladd – John Tavares – Josh Bailey
Anders Lee – Brock Nelson – Jason Chimera
Anthony Beauvillier – Ryan Strome – Alan Quine
Nikolay Kulemin – Casey Cizikas – Cal Clutterbuck

Nick Leddy – Travis Hamonic
Thomas Hickey – Johnny Boychuk
Calvin de Haan – Dennis Seidenberg

Jaroslav Halak
Thomas Greiss


Sharks: None.

Islanders: Casey Cizikas (leg) is day-to-day. Mikhail Grabovski (concussion), Eric Boulton (lower body) and Shane Prince (lower body) are out.


“I don’t think we were bad, we just didn’t have that energy that we needed, that compete level. … Just [tried] to turn it on in the third and get away with it. Something we’ve got to learn from and go forward.” – Paul Martin, after the 7-4 loss to the Rangers on Monday

Sharks 'just weren't good enough' vs. Coyotes in first loss of 2019

Sharks 'just weren't good enough' vs. Coyotes in first loss of 2019

You have to hand it to the Sharks, they put on quite the show to kick off 2019. They’ve shown incredible growth since the start of the season, and battled through a jam-packed schedule to defeat some difficult teams and put together a stellar winning streak in the process.

That in of itself probably makes their first loss of the new year -- a 6-3 defeat at the hands of the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday night -- a letdown.

“We just weren’t good enough,” Sharks forward Logan Couture told the media in Arizona, “and it’s tough because we were on such a nice run.”

The Sharks were, in fact, shooting for their eighth win in a row. They had just beaten the Pittsburgh Penguins the night before, in arguably one of their most complete 60-minute efforts this season. Playing a lower-level team like the Coyotes afterward can, of course, result in a little bit of a letdown.

However, the Sharks had yet to fall into that trap in 2019, defeating the lowly Los Angeles Kings after a win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, and the Ottawa Senators two nights after beating the Vegas Golden Knights. This is a team that, clearly, knows not to overlook lesser competition.

But even knowing the difficulties such a game can present, the Sharks had trouble early against the Coyotes.

“We knew coming in that we had to get our emotional level back engaged again after last night,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer acknowledged. “We didn’t do it quickly enough or for long enough.”

[RELATED: Sharks GM says trade deadline deals must strike right balance]

It didn’t help either that San Jose was playing Arizona on the tail end of yet another back-to-back. All three times these teams have met this season have been on the second night of a Sharks back-to-back. The Coyotes, on the other hand, were well-rested after losing to the Calgary Flames on Sunday.

That extra time showed on Wednesday. 

“You have to give [Arizona] credit,” DeBoer continued. “They were rested, and they played with a lot of energy and won a lot of battles.” 

San Jose has battles of their own to fight, and no time to dwell on the end of a season-long winning streak. The Sharks entered Wednesday just one point behind the Calgary Flames in the Pacific Division, but fell back another point after the Flames lost to the Buffalo Sabres in overtime.

Plus, they'll have another emotionally-charged game coming up on Saturday when they travel to Tampa Bay for a rematch with the Lightning. San Jose’s already beaten the Bolts once before, and a loss to the Coyotes shouldn’t deter them from thinking they can do it again.

“We’re not happy about this loss, but we’ve got to keep doing what we’ve done before,” Timo Meier said. “We’ve done some good things, we’ve played some great hockey. We’ve got to continue.”

Sharks takeaways: What we learned in streak-ending 6-3 loss to Coyotes


Sharks takeaways: What we learned in streak-ending 6-3 loss to Coyotes


All good things must come to an end. Yes, even the Sharks' winning streak. 

San Jose made things interesting Wednesday night in the desert against the Arizona Coyotes. Evander Kane stayed hot, Kevin Labanc got off the schneid, and Logan Couture got a late power-play goal to keep it close. But the Sharks came up just a little bit short, falling 6-3 to the Desert Dogs.

Here are three takeaways from Wednesday’s game:

You have to give the Coyotes some credit

Arizona may be occupying the cellar of the Pacific Division, but that didn’t mean San Jose could come into their house and steal a victory uncontested. The Coyotes played a smart game on Wednesday night, jumping on the Sharks when they showed signs of getting tired and not giving them a ton of room to build up momentum.

This is something we’ve seen from San Jose’s opponents since they got hot at the start of December. Even teams who aren’t as good as the Sharks – like the Ottawa Senators and Wednesday’s opponent, the Coyotes – have turned up the heat against San Jose.

[RELATED: Doug Wilson says Sharks' moves at trade deadline must strike right balance]

Aaron Dell’s performance

Yes, Dell should have stopped Lawson Crouse's game-open goal. But after that he really settled in, even bailing out a couple of his teammates before the first 20 minutes expired. His most impressive saves occurred later in the game.

The first, with a little over five minutes left in the second stanza when he froze Richard Panik with a magnificent glove save.

Then, there was the third-period stop when he kicked Vinnie Hinostroza’s chance out of the way.

Dell didn’t have as much help in front of him. San Jose was playing on the second night of a back-to-back – why are they always playing Arizona on the tail end of a back-to-back – with travel. That’s in addition to playing a tough game against the Pittsburgh Penguins the night before. The Sharks didn’t look their sharpest, but Dell, who hadn’t played the night before, did his best to keep his team in it.

It’s almost time for Timo Time, right?

This has been a subject of Twitter chatter for a few games now. Timo Meier has now gone a career-high 16 games without scoring. In the last few contests, his level of play has really come up a notch as he tries to snap the drought. And that’s saying something, because if you have watched Meier play this season, you know he’s a player who doesn’t sit back on his heels.

On Wednesday in Arizona, he led all Sharks’ skaters with seven shots on goal. Make no mistake, Meier is primed to break out. Heck, getting a goal or two on Saturday in Tampa Bay against the Lightning would be a nice way to bust his slump.