Sharks-Flyers: What to watch for

February 28, 2012, 8:34 pm
Share This Post

PROGRAMMING ALERT: Sharks Pregame Live airs on Comcast SportsNet California at 7 p.m. and takes you up to puck drop. Stick around after the game for Sharks Postgame Live with highlights and analysis from Scott Reiss, Bret Hedican and Ray Ratto.

SAN JOSE The Sharks will get to see their new acquisitions in action for the first time tonight when they host the Philadelphia Flyers, as Daniel Winnik and TJ Galiardi are in San Jose and ready to suit up in teal for the first time since yesterdays trade.

One of their biggest pieces, however, may be out. Logan Couture left Sundays game with a lower body injury after taking numerous hard checks against the Wild, including a jarring blow from Greg Zanon early in the third period that knocked him from the game.

Couture skated for a bit without pads on Tuesday, before the rest of the team hit the ice for the morning skate. The team leader with 27 goals, hes questionable against the Flyers with a lower body injury believed to be a knee.

Theres a chance I can play tonight, Couture said. It definitely feels a lot better than it did the day of the game.

Back to Winnik and Galiardi. The two close friends are obviously excited to get their Sharks debut underway, and were asked what fans can expect from them tonight at HP Pavilion.

Just try to be a spark, Galiardi said. Have some good energy, and use my skating to my advantage and help the guys Im playing with by getting in on the forecheck, and help out offensively too, when I can.

Winnik said: Always when you get traded, you bring new excitement with yourself, and hopefully TJ and I inject some energy into the lineup.

Forget about the road: Now that the road trip from hell has come to an end, which included a delayed return to the Bay Area after mechanical problems with the plane kept them in St. Paul for an extra night, the Sharks (32-22-7, 71 points) will have to quickly move on.

The recent trade deadline and a four-game homestand offers the chance to right the proverbial ship after seven losses in their last nine games (2-6-1).

The guys that are in the room are the guys were going with. Its a great opportunity for us to get things turned around here, and start playing better hockey, Patrick Marleau said.

Todd McLellan wont coach for the Sharks tonight, still suffering from a concussion he received on Sunday, so it will be assistants Jay Woodcroft and Matt Shaw manning the duties for San Jose.

Woodcroft met with the media after the morning skate, and addressed the teams mindset after the poor road trip.

Its part of adversity. As teams go out throughout a season and you always talk adversity, well, were in it right now, Woodcroft said. These are the times that bring teams together.

Embattled goaltenders meet: Antti Niemis recent struggles are concerning, but thats nothing compared to how miserable its been in net for their opponent tonight, the Philadelphia Flyers (34-20-7, 75 points).

The Flyers lead the NHL in goals, but like the Sharks lately, have had trouble keeping it out of their own net. Ilya Bryzgalov, their prized offeseason acquisition, has a 2.82 goals-against average and .898 save percentage (and is making no less than 10 million this season).

Bryzgalov will start tonight against Niemi, who is 1-3-1 in his last five starts and has not lasted the first period in two of his last three.

The Sharks team defense has been just as bad as Niemi, allowing 35 goals in the nine games on the road, or nearly four per game.

RELATED: Defense at heart of Sharks' problems

Its just attention to detail. Weve proven it throughout the season that we can do it, said Marleau of the team defending better. Weve got to have everybody on the same page and taking pride in it. That will make a huge difference.

A look at the lines: With Couture questionable and Dominic Moore (lower body) still out, the Sharks had some very different looks to their lines during the morning skate.

Ryane Clowe and Tommy Wingels flanked Joe Thornton, while Marleau centered Winnik and Joe Pavelski. Michal Handzus, scratched on Sunday, was between Galiardi and Torrey Mitchell while the fourth line remained Andrew Desjardins, Brad Winchester and Jim Vandermeer.

Defenseman Douglas Murray is also still out with a fractured Adams apple.

Odds and ends: This is the only meeting of the season between these two teams. The Flyers are concluding a four-game West Coast swing. San Jose has won eight straight games against the Flyers, dating back to Feb. 16, 2004.