It’s been three weeks since the San Jose Sharks last played in a game, and excluding those who played in the Olympics, they are probably itching to get back on the ice.
They will get that chance on Thursday night when they take on the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center in both teams’ first game back from the Olympic break.
The Sharks have another reason to be excited: they will be getting two of their key players back in the lineup in Logan Couture and Raffi Torres. Couture had missed the past 16 games after undergoing surgery on his hand, and Torres has yet to play a game this season, sidelined after injuring his ACL in the preseason. It will be interesting to see how coach Todd McLellan plans to mix-and-match the lines with these two back in the mix.
While San Jose probably didn’t mind a few weeks off to heal and recover, the Flyers didn’t seem to like the break at all. Prior to the Olympics, the Flyers had won four straight games and clicking on all cylinders. Now, they’ll have to regenerate that momentum against the Sharks if they want to win their fifth in a row.
The last time these two teams met was earlier this month (Feb. 7) when the Flyers defeated the Sharks 5-2 at SAP Center, giving the Sharks a rare home loss. Philadelphia scored four goals in the third period, and while a few of them were the fault of Sharks’ goaltender Antti Niemi, the Sharks were simply outplayed by the Flyers. Matt Nieto scored twice in that game for the Sharks, while Claude Giroux netted one goal and dished out two assists for the Flyers.
Tale of the Tape
- Goals for per game: 2.81 (T-9th)
- Goals against per game: 2.32 (4th)
- Shots per game: 34.9 (1st)
- Shots against per game: 27.7 (5th)
- Save percentage: 0.916 (T-8th)
- Penalty minutes: 521 (27th)
- Power play percentage: 17.2% (18th)
- Penalty kill percentage: 83.7% (8th)
- Goals for per game: 2.69 (16th)
- Goals against per game: 2.75 (14th)
- Shots per game: 29.5 (20th)
- Shots against per game: 30.4 (T-18th)
- Save percentage: 0.910 (T-17th)
- Penalty minutes: 894 (1st)
- Power play percentage: 19.6% (10th)
- Penalty kill percentage: 84.1% (7th)
The Sharks should get plenty of power play opportunities, given that the Flyers are the most-penalized team in the league. Perhaps this will stimulate their 18th-ranked power play that has struggled especially as of late.
We could be putting a group of players on the ice together for the first time this season. That can be a real good thing. It will also have to be a patient thing for our group. They are going to experience that level that they haven’t been at yet.
I think Thursday will be kind of a feeling-out game just for everyone to get back. It’s kind of like a Game 1 or Game 2. The team that is simple and works hard and competes is the team that has the best chance of winning. . . . But I think we believe in here; we’ve had some great practices and we’re really focused.
SJ: Brad Stuart (upper body injury) is day-to-day. Tomas Hertl (right knee surgery) is on injured reserve.
PHI: Kimmo Timonen (exhaustion from Olympics) is out.
SAN JOSE (37-16-6)
Opening faceoff: 4:00 PST
Location: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
TV: LOCAL (CSNCA, CSNP)
Tags: San Jose Sharks