Sharks

NHL Gameday: Sharks play first of two straight with rival Kings

NHL Gameday: Sharks play first of two straight with rival Kings

Programming note – Sharks-Kings coverage starts today at 7:00 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on CSN California

WHERE THEY STAND

Sharks: 23-12-1, 47 points, 1st Pacific Division
Kings: 17-15-4, 38 points, 5th Pacific Division

PREGAME NEWS AND NOTES

***The Sharks bring a four-game winning streak into the first of two consecutive meetings with the Kings at Staples Center. San Jose has won eight of its last nine overall, including Friday night’s 2-0 shutout of the Flyers at SAP Center. They continue to lead the Pacific Division, with a three-point lead and a game in hand over second place Edmonton.

San Jose has played on New Year’s Eve nine times, all on the road, going 7-1-1.

***Los Angeles has lost three straight (0-2-1), and is just 1-3-2 in its last six. The Kings have scored two or fewer goals in six of their last seven, and are missing second-leading scorer Tyler Toffoli, who has been out for the last four games with a lower body injury.

The Kings just completed a nine-game road swing (sandwiched around the Christmas break) with a 3-4-2 record, and will be playing at home for the first time since Dec. 10. They are 10-4-1 at Staples Center.

***Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s status for the game is uncertain after he took a slap shot to the face late in Friday’s win. Coach Pete DeBoer said after the game that it was doubtful Vlasic would take the postgame flight to southern California.

KEEP AN EYE ON...

Sharks: Martin Jones. After a rare night off on Friday, Jones will presumably return to the net against the Kings tonight and again on Tuesday in the rematch at SAP Center. He’s had tremendous success against his former team, with a 5-1-1 record, 2.12 goals-against average and .924 save percentage in seven appearances. He’s tied for second in the NHL with 19 wins and is eighth in GAA (2.08).

Kings: Dustin Brown. In his first season after getting stripped of the captaincy, Brown has 15 points (4g, 11a) in 35 games, and with a team-worst minus-10 rating. He’s skating on the top line lately with the equally cold Anze Kopitar, and has just one goal in his last 17 games. Still, Brown can impact the game in other ways, as Sharks fans well know. He leads the Kings with 95 hits.

PROBABLE LINES

Sharks
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
Brenden Dillon – Justin Braun
David Schlemko – Dylan DeMelo

Martin Jones
Aaron Dell

Kings
Marian Gaborik – Anze Kopitar – Dustin Brown
Tanner Pearson – Jeff Carter – Devin Setoguchi
Kyle Clifford – Nic Dowd – Trevor Lewis
Dwight King – Nick Shore – Jordan Nolan

Derek Forbort – Drew Doughty
Jake Muzzin – Alec Martinez
Brayden McNabb – Kevin Gravel

Peter Budaj
Jeff Zatkoff

INJURIES

Sharks: Marc-Edouard Vlasic (face) is doubtful. Tomas Hertl (right knee sprain) is out.

Kings: Jonathan Quick (groin) and Tyler Toffoli (lower body) are out.

QUOTEABLE

“Guys are getting into the [shooting] lanes, even up by two goals with 30 seconds left. We're doing it for Deller, or if Jones is in there, we're doing the same thing. We take a lot of pride in the D zone." – Justin Braun

Doug Wilson hopes Sharks' youngsters can help team finish on high note

Doug Wilson hopes Sharks' youngsters can help team finish on high note

The Sharks lost their first four games to the 2019-20 season, and it hasn't gotten much better since. San Jose is all but guaranteed to miss the playoffs for only the second time since Doug Wilson took over as general manager 16 seasons ago, and just as it has been for the players, the disappointing year has been tough on Wilson, too.

"It's been a challenge," Wilson told NBC Sports California's Jamie Baker ahead of the Sharks' game against the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night. "But that happens in life. If you're going to have the success and the moments that you enjoy, then you've got to deal with these things. I'll be honest with you, you learn a lot about people through times like this. Emotions get into play, but what you've got to do is make sure you have clarity to make the right decisions going forward. So, that's the balance you're trying to find during these challenging times."

Wilson and San Jose got more clarity with the passing of the NHL's trade deadline on Monday, as the team sent veteran forwards Patrick Marleau and Barclay Goodrow to the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning, respectively, in exchange for draft picks. The Sharks also received two draft picks from the Washington Capitals in the Brenden Dillon trade last week.

[RELATED: Wilson pleased with Sharks' haul, but work is just starting]

While the draft picks certainly will help as Wilson tries to build the roster back to a contending state this offseason, the departures of Marleau, Goodrow and Dillon have left large voids in San Jose's lineup, and there are still 20 games left to play. With the Sharks' playoff hopes already dashed, they have every reason to fill those voids with prospects from within the system that might or might not be part of the franchise's future moving forward.

It will be a different kind of finish to the regular season than San Jose is accustomed to, but Wilson is looking forward to seeing what several of those younger players can do with their resulting opportunities.

"There's a lot of them," Wilson said of the prospects. "You take a look at Mario Ferraro -- I think right from Day 1 has been really good -- he's actually stepping up to the next level. You've got a kid, Lean Bergmann, that's been brought in. [Alex True] has come in and [Joel] Kellman's come in, and you're going to see a bunch of guys for the next 20 games or so. And out of this challenging time comes great opportunity. And I think the quality veterans that we have are continuing to instill us playing the right way, which means the young kids can come in and get into good habits. So, we're focused in on that, and there's a little juice and energy when you see these young guys come in."

There hasn't been much positive energy surrounding the Sharks this season. But maybe, just maybe, the youngsters can help San Jose finish the 2019-20 season on a relatively high note.

Sharks' Logan Couture returns to lineup vs. Flyers after long absence

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USATSI

Sharks' Logan Couture returns to lineup vs. Flyers after long absence

Ladies and gentlemen, he's back.

After 17 games out of the lineup, Sharks captain Logan Couture is returning to the San Jose lineup ahead of Tuesday night's game in Philadelphia against the Flyers.

Couture suffered a fractured ankle back on Jan. 7 in St. Louis, and the Sharks have been 7-10-0 in his absence. San Jose activated Couture from injured reserve Tuesday.

[RELATED: Thornton frustrated Sharks didn't trade him to contender]

The center had 36 points in 45 appearances this season, and looks to help the Sharks snap a four-game losing streak.