In the Crease: Sharks begin last week before break vs. Philly

In the Crease: Sharks begin last week before break vs. Philly
February 3, 2014, 9:45 am

Joe Thornton has gone four straight games without a point and Brent Burns is riding a 13-game goalless streak. (USATSI)

Programming note: Sharks-Flyers coverage begins Monday at 7 p.m.with Sharks Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet California

Where they stand
Sharks: 35-15-6, 76 points, 2nd Pacific Division, 4th Western Conference
Flyers: 27-23-6, 60 points, 4th Metropolitan Division, 9th Eastern Conference

The latest

Sharks: The Sharks snapped a three-game losing streak with a 2-1 win over Chicago in a shootout at home on Saturday. Joe Pavelski’s shorthanded marker was their only goal through regulation, and Pavelski, Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton all scored in the tiebreaker. The Sharks, who have just two goals in their last four games, have three games left before the Olympic break. All are at home, including tonight’s game with the Flyers, where they are 20-3-3.

[RELATED: Sharks defensemen find shooting lanes in win over Chicago]

Flyers: Philadelphia won for just the second time in its last seven games on Saturday in Los Angeles, 2-0. Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds had the goals, and Steve Mason recorded the shutout, despite his team getting outshot 35-13. The Flyers are 1-1 on a three-game road trip through California that ends tonight, including a 5-3 loss in Anaheim last Thursday.

Keep an eye on…

Sharks: Joe Thornton. For the first time this season Thornton has gone four straight games without a point, and is no longer the NHL’s assist leader. Prior to this current stretch, Thornton had not gone more than two games without getting on the scoresheet. The Sharks need more from the captain, and linemate Brent Burns (no goals in 13 games) if they want to go into the Olympic break on a high note.

Flyers: Claude Giroux. The Flyers’ leading scorer had a goal and an assist in Los Angeles on Saturday, and has eight points in his last eight games (4g, 4a). Giroux has put a dreadfully painful start of the season behind him, and has regained his place on the list of the Eastern Conference’s elite forwards.

Vitals

Sharks
Goals per game: 2.84 (8th)
Goals-against per game: 2.30 (4th)
Power play: 17.8 percent (18th)
Penalty kill: 83.6 percent (8th)

Flyers
Goals per game: 2.66 (17th)
Goals-against per game: 2.82 (18th)
Power play: 19.5 percent (12th)
Penalty kill: 83.9 percent (6th)

Probable lines

Sharks
Matt Nieto – Joe Thornton – Brent Burns
Patrick Marleau – Joe Pavelski – Tommy Wingels
James Sheppard – Bracken Kearns - Marty Havlat
Tyler Kennedy - Andrew Desjardins - Mike Brown

Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Matt Irwin – Dan Boyle
Scott Hannan – Brad Stuart

Antti Niemi
Alex Stalock

Flyers
Scott Hartnell – Claude Giroux – Jakub Voracek
Vinny Lecavalier – Brayden Schenn – Wayne Simmonds
Steve Downie – Sean Couturier – Matt Read
Michael Raffl – Adam Hall – Zac Rinaldo

Mark Streit – Andrej Meszaros
Braydon Coburn – Nicklas Grossmann
Luke Schenn – Erik Gustafsson

Steve Mason
Ray Emery

Injuries/Scratches

Sharks: Tomas Hertl (right knee surgery), Raffi Torres (right knee surgery), Adam Burish (back surgery), Logan Couture (right hand) and Jason Demers (lower body) are out. Tyler Kennedy (lower body) is probable.

Flyers: Kimmo Timonen (bruised foot) is doubtful.

[CSNPHILLY.com: Timonen injury update]

Season/All-Time series

It’s the first meeting in nearly two years between the Sharks and Flyers, who will meet in again Philadelphia in the first game after the Olympic break on Feb. 27. The Flyers are one of just two teams (Columbus) that San Jose has not played this season.

The Flyers have gone 13 games without a win over the Sharks (0-8-2-3), including seven straight in San Jose. All-time, the Sharks are 14-13-4-0 against the Flyers.

Quoteable

“You want to just be ready to shoot when you get the puck. You’ve got to find that lane. I don’t know if it’s mental or physical, you just have to figure out how to get it down to the net.” – Justin Braun

Burning question

Are the Sharks locked into the second seed in the Pacific Division, or do you expect things to get tighter after the Olympic break?

Leave your answer in the comments section below.