In the Crease: Sharks begin quick jaunt to Alberta

In the Crease: Sharks begin quick jaunt to Alberta
March 24, 2014, 11:15 am
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James Sheppard has two goals, eight assists and a +8 rating in his last 14 games. (AP)

Programming note: Flames-Sharks coverage starts tonight at 5:30 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live, only on Comcast SportsNet California

Where they stand
Sharks: 46-18-8, 100 points, 1st Pacific Division, 2nd Western Conference
Flames: 29-35-7, 77 points, 6th Pacific Division, 13th Western Conference

The latest

Sharks: Patrick Marleau’s 30th goal and a breakaway marker by James Sheppard weren’t enough in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Capitals at home on Saturday, Washington’s first win in San Jose since Oct. 30, 1993. The Sharks are 9-2-2 since the season resumed after the Olympic break, and have 10 games remaining, including tonight against the Flames. They visit Edmonton tomorrow.

[KURZ: Flames, Oilers in different states as Sharks visit]

Flames: Calgary flattened the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place on Saturday, 8-1, led by a Curtis Glencross hat trick. The Flames have won four of their last six games, and has 13 goals total in their last two games.

Keep an eye on…

Sharks: James Sheppard. The current third line center provided the biggest highlight on Saturday night, when he blocked a shot in the defensive zone and scored a breakaway goal against Washington’s Braden Holtby in the third period. Sheppard has two goals, eight assists and a +8 rating in his last 14 games.

Flames: Mike Cammalleri. The Flames’ forward has 16 points in the last 11 games (10g, 6a) including a seven-game point streak. The 31-year-old missed nine games with a concussion in January and was scoreless in six games after his return, but has at least one point in 10 of 11 games since March 3.

Vitals

Sharks
Goals per game: 2.93 (7th)
Goals-against per game: 2.32 (4th)
Power play: 16.0 percent (22nd)
Penalty kill: 84.7 percent (5th)

Flames
Goals per game: 2.48 (T – 21st)
Goals-against per game: 2.92 (25th)
Power play: 15.4 percent (24th)
Penalty kill: 81.7 percent (17th)

Probable lines

Sharks
Joe Pavelski – Joe Thornton – Brent Burns
Patrick Marleau – Logan Couture – Matt Nieto
Marty Havlat – James Sheppard – Tommy Wingels
Adam Burish – Andrew Desjardins – Mike Brown

Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Jason Demers
Scott Hannan – Dan Boyle
Matt Irwin – Justin Braun

Alex Stalock (confirmed starter)
Antti Niemi

Flames
Curtis Glencross – Matt Stajan – Jiri Hudler
Mike Cammalleri – Mikael Backlund – Paul Byron
Ken Agostino – Sean Monahan – Lance Bouma
Kevin Westgarth – Joe Colborne – Brian McGrattan

Mark Giordano – T.J. Brodie
Ladislav Smid – Tyler Wotherspoon
Kris Russell – Chris Butler

Karri Ramo
Joey MacDonald

Injuries/Scratches

Sharks: Tomas Hertl (right knee surgery), and Raffi Torres (right knee) are out. Brad Stuart (upper body) is questionable.

Flames: David Jones (shoulder), Dennis Wideman (upper body) and Markus Granlund (upper body) are out.

Season/All-Time series

The Sharks have won three of the four games against Calgary this season, but lost the most recent meeting, 4-1 at the Saddledome on Jan. 30.

Joe Pavelski leads the Sharks with seven points against the Flames (4g, 3a). Jiri Hudler and Sean Monahan have four points apiece for Calgary. Antti Niemi and Alex Stalock have each played two games, and both have allowed exactly five goals on 42 shots against.

All-time, the Sharks are 43-47-4 against the Flames, with eight ties.

Quoteable

“The teams like that, we’ve struggled with this season, for whatever reason. It would be a good time to change that and play some good hockey and get some wins.” – Patrick Marleau, on the Sharks struggling with teams low in the standings

Burning question

Why have the Sharks struggled with teams that are low in the standings? Leave your answer in the comments section below.