The Sharks got their butts kicked on Thursday and have lost three games in a row. Despite capturing six of a possible 10 points in their last five games, the Sharks find themselves just outside panic town in part because of the quality of opponents they faced. Is that fair? Of course not, but panic never is.
San Jose is in first place in the Pacific with a game in hand on the Ducks entering today’s game and the Sharks are still, by my estimation, the best team in the division. They also blew a big lead to Buffalo, lost to Arizona and got the crap kicked out of them by a team that just fired its head coach. Frustration is a reasonable emotion at this juncture and it will continue to be reasonable if San Jose doesn’t beat the Flyers today.
Of course this isn’t a matchup that naturally favors the Sharks, either. The time of day, for starters, is problematic. A matinee start is death to all Western teams even when the opponent is subpar. Philadelphia is only one point out of the playoffs right now and, frankly, not a bad hockey team in my opinion even if head coach Dave Hakstol insists on scratching Shayne Gostisbehere from time to time.
San Jose recalled Kevin Labanc and Tim Heed from the Barracuda following Thursday’s loss and sent down Joakim Ryan and Ryan Carpenter in the process. I wouldn’t be surprised to see both Labanc and Heed in the lineup today since David Schlemko only played 12 minutes on Thursday. It’s notable that Marcus Sorensen stayed up with the squad.
The Sharks have won six in a row against the Flyers, dating back to Feb. 3 of 2014 when San Jose lost 5-2 at home. The Sharks haven’t lost in Philadelphia since 2000, though San Jose did tie with Philly in 2002. They’re 10-6-0-2 all time in The City of Brotherly Love, for whatever that’s worth.
They beat Philly 2-0 at home with Aaron Dell in net, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the rookie get another go between the pipes this morning. Dell played the majority of the game against the Bruins on Thursday and did well in relief of Jones, despite being saddled with the loss.
So go get your coffee and bagels: it’s time to end this stupid losing streak.