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Sharks at Flyers Preview: Get Gritty?

Sharks look to rebound in the second game of an East Coast back-to-back.

Nov 28, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Flyers right wing Wayne Simmonds (17) leaps to get out of the way of the puck in front of San Jose Sharks goalie Aaron Dell (30) during the third period at Wells Fargo Center. Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Sharks have to put yesterday’s loss behind them quickly because they have a game again tonight. They’ll be facing the Philadelphia Flyers for the Flyers’ home opener, where they certainly won’t be thinking about their own home opener loss against the Flyers last year.

Neither team has had an ideal start to the season. Both are coming off away losses, though the Flyers have the advantage of recovery time, as their last game was a 5-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on October 6.

The good news is, it’s early in the season and there’s still plenty of time to turn things around.

Martin Jones played yesterday, letting in four goals against the New York Islanders and with three more games on this road trip, it’s possible we see Aaron Dell in net tonight.

And I can’t not mention Gritty, the Flyers’ whacky new mascot who makes me a little uncomfortable to live in Philadelphia, who will also be making his regular season debut tonight at Wells Fargo Center.

Lack of “power” in power plays

Both the Flyers and Sharks are struggling a man-up in their first few games. Last season, they had near-identical power play conversion rates, just over 20 percent for each.

The Sharks have not scored on the power play so far this season, despite having the fourth-most minutes of man advantage time in the NHL and a respectable shots-for mark (84.62 percent via Natural Stat Trick). The Flyers have only scored once on their seven power plays for a 14.3 percent success rate.

Both teams have allowed a short-handed goal against — the Sharks gave up one just last night with the net empty.

Knees are fragile

Joe Thornton’s knee is acting up, and he isn’t on the road trip with the Sharks. Luckily, it seems to only be an infection; no more invasive surgery for Joe. He’s had enough surgery on his knees in the last two years.

The Flyers announced yesterday that James van Riemsdyk will be out five-to-six weeks with a “lower body” injury. Our SB Nation colleagues at Broad Street Hockey believe it’s his knee, as well.

The Sharks are out their top line center and the Flyers are out their biggest free agency acquisition. Neither team is icing their ideal line up.

Find some good lines

The Sharks tried Melker Karlsson on the top line Monday. It’s not the only thing that didn’t work out, but it certainly didn’t help. Karlsson didn’t finish the game as a top-liner. By the end of the Isles game, both Kevin Labanc and Joonas Donskoi had moved up a line, with Karlsson bumping down to third.

Labanc with Timo Meier and Joe Pavelski, and Donskoi with Tomas Hertl and Logan Couture seem like lines worth trying for a whole game.

Rourke Chartier played his first NHL game yesterday, logging three shots on goal in 11 minutes of ice time. Dylan Gambrell was also recalled from the AHL, and skated for the Sharks three times last season. With lines getting tossed into the blender by the end of last game, it’s anyone’s guess who slots into tonight’s line up.

For the Flyers, the loss of top-9 player Van Riemsdyk could shake up their lines a bit. They could place so-far-scratched Jordan Weal on the wing, they could recall a player from AHL Lehigh or they could just keep 13 forwards.

Broad Street Hockey pointed out the Flyers lineup is essentially the same as last season.

Bold prediction: Gritty kills a man. Someone scores on the power play. Hopefully it’s the Sharks.