Sharks-Caps: What to watch for

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Sharks-Caps: What to watch for

Programming Note: Catch NHL Live at 4 p.m. followed by the Sharks vs. Washington Capitals at 4:30 p.m., tonight on NBC Sports Network!

WASHINGTON, DC The Sharks road trip began with a thud on Sunday night in St. Louis with a 3-0 loss to the Blues. They play game two of the nine-game trip right away, tonight in Washington.In direct contrast to previous seasons, San Jose has struggled away from HP Pavilion this year, losing as many as it has won (12-8-4). The Capitals have been downright miserable on the road, including a 3-2 loss in New York on Sunday, but are 19-7-2 in one of the louder buildings in the NHL the Verizon Center.
Thomas Greiss, who figures to get more playing time as the Sharks have three back-to-backs on this road trip alone, will start in net opposing Washingtons Michal Neuvirth.The Sharks are 4-2-1 in the second half of back-to-backs this season.RELATED: Sharks scheduleresults
Inconsistency since the break: The Sharks looked like they might be hitting their stride immediately following the All-Star break, with convincing wins over Columbus and Dallas. Since then, theyve dropped three of four in regulation and their lead in the Pacific Division is down to a single point over Los Angeles (albeit with four games in hand).The Sharks would love to put Sundays loss in St. Louis behind them immediately, and tonights game against the Caps gives them that opportunity. One aspect of their game that was absent against the Blues was the power play, which was 10-for-22 in the previous eight games, scoring at least once in seven of those.The Capitals own the 22nd ranked penalty kill in the league at 81.0 percent, but its 12th in the NHL at home (85.2 percent).One positive that the Sharks can take from the loss to the Blues is that they were strong defensively five-on-five. St. Louis scored a pair of goals with a two-man advantage and an empty net marker late.More on the goalies: Greiss has never faced the Capitals in his career, as it was Antti Niemi in net on Jan. 7 when the Sharks claimed a 5-2 win over Washington at HP Pavilion. His number this season are outstanding with a 7-4-1 record, 1.98 goals-against average and .925 save percentage.Neuvirth, who took the loss at Madison Square Garden yesterday, will make his second straight start as Tomas Vokoun is recovering from the flu. The young netminder is not having a very good year, with a GAA of 3.07 and SP of .894.Against the Sharks, hes even worse, with 0-3-0 record, 3.37 GAA and .897 SP.Caps on the outside: Washington, a preseason favorite once again to compete for the Stanley Cup, sits in ninth place in the Eastern Conference. Thats one point out of a playoff spot, and four points behind the Southwest Division-leading Florida Panthers.Injuries to key players like Mike Green (sports hernia) and Nicklas Backstrom (concussion) have not helped, and neither is ready to return to the lineup yet. Alex Ovechkin leads the Capitals in scoring but is having another decidedly average season, by his standards. In fact, Ovechkin and Logan Couture have the same exact stat line with 23 goals and 21 assists each. Couture is a 8, while Ovechkin is a -6.Odds and ends: Alex Semin has three goals and three assists in his last five games. Joe Thornton has two goals and five assists in the last five games Logan Couture, who had an eight-game scoring streak snapped last night, has five goals and seven assists in his last nine games.

Sharks ink pair of European prospects

Sharks ink pair of European prospects

The Sharks officially announced the signing of defenseman Radim Simek to a one-year contract on Tuesday, as well as Swedish forward Filip Sandberg to a two-year contract.

Simek’s deal was reported on Monday and confirmed by NBC Sports California. The contract is valued at $925,000 for the 2017-18 season, a source confirmed. The 24-year-old defenseman spent the past five seasons in the Czech league, posting 24 points (11g, 13a) and 30 penalty minutes with a plus-18 rating last season. A left-handed shot, he is listed at five-foot-11 and 196 pounds on the IIHL website.

In 211 career games in the Czech league, he posted 91 points (37g, 54a) and a plus-51 rating.

"Radim is a quick transition defenseman who drives the play offensively and plays with a physical edge," general manager Doug Wilson said in a statement. "We like his offensive instincts especially on special teams and think his game will translate well in North America."

Sandberg, 22, has 71 points (25g, 46a) in 204 career games in the Swedish league. Last season, he posted 25 points (8g, 17a) and a plus-17 rating in 52 games.

Sandberg is set to make $742,500 in 2017-18 and $792,500 in 2018-19, a source confirmed.

The five-foot-nine, 180-pound Stockholm native also competed in the World Jr. Championships in 2013 and 2014, helping Sweden win silver both years.

"Filip is a very creative player who sees the ice well and can create offense in limited space," Wilson said. "He plays a high-pressure, puck-pursuit game and his battle level is something we have been impressed with, especially against older players. We are excited for him to join our organization."

The contracts for Simek and Forsberg are two-way deals, allowing them to play for the AHL Barracuda next season.

Sharks sign defenseman from Czech Republic

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AP

Sharks sign defenseman from Czech Republic

The Sharks have signed Czech defenseman Radim Simek to a one-year contract.

The two-way deal, originally reported by Radio Praha in the Czech Republic, is expected to be announced by the Sharks later this week, according to a source. Simek just finished competing for his country in the 2017 IIHF World Championships, skating in all eight games for the Czech Republic while posting one goal, one assist, 11 shots and a minus-two rating.

Simek, 24, has spent the last five seasons in the Czech League. In 42 games for Liberec in 2016-17, he posted 24 points (11g, 13a) and 30 penalty minutes with a plus-18 rating. A left-handed shot, he is listed at five-foot-11 and 196 pounds on the IIHF website.

The New York Rangers were also interested in Simek, according to the report.

Simek will likely begin next season with the AHL Barracuda.

The Sharks have signed a number of free agents out of Europe in recent seasons, including Joonas Donskoi in 2015 and Marcus Sorensen and Tim Heed last May.