Sharks at Flyers Preview: Game of Jones

San Jose hopes to finish the road trip with a .500 record with a win over the Flyers tonight.

The San Jose Sharks’ Eastern Conference road trip will be coming to an end as the team takes on the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center before making their way back to Northern California, where they will have a four-game homestand. Tonight will be the second and final meeting between the two teams this season. They met a little over a week ago in San Jose on Dec. 30, when the Sharks took a 3-2 overtime win, thanks to heroics from Tomas Hertl.

This season has not been kind to the Flyers, and it’s looking like they’re going to find themselves on the outside looking in come April. They’re riding a four-game losing streak and sit 24th in the league. The organization fired head coach Alain Vigneault last month, and are running with Mike Yeo — famously known for being fired by the St. Louis Blues in 2019 before they went on to win the Stanley Cup that very same season — in the interim.

The Flyers are 6-7-2 (.400) on home ice this season, while the Sharks are 9-9-0 (.500) on the road. San Jose is better than Philadelphia in virtually every category, including power play percentage, penalty kill percentage, goals per game and goals allowed per game.

A player to watch for the Flyers is Cam Atkinson. The forward was acquired by Philadelphia this past off-season in a trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets at the draft, and has been a great addition to the team. He has tallied 25 points (14 goals, 11 assists) through 34 games, including five points through his last five games.

The Sharks will play against goaltender Martin Jones for the first time since Oct. 8, 2014, where he played one period in relief for Jonathan Quick, saving all three shots that he faced. Jones has been enjoying modest success as the back-up goaltender for the Flyers this season, holding a 6-5-1 record, a .906 save percentage, .417 quality start percentage (QS%), and -1.96 goals saved above expected (GSAx). Not anything special, but definitely an improvement over his last three seasons in San Jose.

As for the Flyers’ line-up, it’s completely depleted due to COVID-19 and injuries. Derick Brassard, Nate Thompson, Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, Travis Konecny, Gerald Mayhew, Tanner Laczynski and Jackson Cates are all missing from their forward corps. On the blue line, the team is without Nick Seeler, Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim, Samuel Morin and Ryan Ellis.

Something to build off of for Hill?

Adin Hill had himself a very nice game against the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night, saving 37 shots and recording a .949 save percentage, helping him boost his overall season save percentage above .900. With the crease being his for the foreseeable future — or at least until James Reimer returns — it could be an opportunity for him to build some momentum.

Hill has played against the Flyers just once in his career, and it was 20 minutes in relief of Darcy Kuemper, while with the Arizona Coyotes. He allowed two goals on 12 shots and recorded an .833 save percentage, so I think he’s hoping for a better outcome tonight.

If he has a good little run, it could give the Sharks some competition in the crease going forward.

Karlsson is out for tonight, day-to-day

Bob Boughner told media that Erik Karlsson will not be able to suit up for tonight’s game, but said that he could be an option for Tuesday. He also noted that it is a day-to-day type of injury, not week-to-week, which is good.

With Karlsson out, expect Ryan Merkley and Jaycob Megna to get another spin in the line-up to prove their worth. If nothing else, they’re always fun to watch.

Meier to continue the reign of terror against Philadelphia?

Timo Meier has just been so, so good all season, but especially as of late, and I’d expect that to continue against the Flyers tonight. Meier has 10 points through his last eight games, going scoreless in just two games. He’s currently riding a three-game point streak, where he has netted 1 goal and 5 points.

Meier was benched for overtime the last time the Sharks played Philadelphia in December after making costly turnovers and weak defensive efforts. I’m thinking he had this game circled on his calendar since then, and that he wants to perform at a higher level.