GAME 63: FLYERS vs. SHARKS
The NHL regular season stretch drive is underway now that the trade deadline has passed. With 20 games remaining on the schedule, Alain Vigneault's Philadelphia Flyers (35-20-7 overall, 21-5-4 home) host Bob Boughner's San Jose Sharks (26-32-4 overall, 12-17-3 road) on Tuesday evening. Game time at the Wells Fargo Center is 7:00 p.m. ET.
The game will be televised on NBCSP. The radio broadcast will be on 97.5 The Fanatic with an online simulcast on the Flyers Radio 24/7
component of the Flyers Broadcast Network.
This is the second and final meeting of the season between the teams, and the lone game in Philadelphia. The Flyers, who are 0-1-0 against the Sharks this season, need to avoid falling into a trap-game pitfall ahead of this weekend's home-and-home set with the New York Rangers.
On Dec. 28, the Flyers began an abysmal post-Christmas road trip with a 6-1 thumping at the hands of a San Jose team that entered the game at 16-20-3. Afterwards, Vigneault said -- for the first and only time this season -- that he couldn't find a single positive thing to take away from the team's play or the performance of any individual player. The team collectively was awful in that game.
The Flyers have generally done a good job at paying back the Western Conference teams to whom they lost, including a couple in ugly fashion, on their earlier road trips. Philly has already dispatched Vancouver, Los Angeles, Colorado and Winnipeg in the Wells Fargo Center portion of their two-game season series. Still ahead after playing the Sharks are Minnesota (March 14) and Edmonton (March 15), against whom the Flyers suffered multi-goal road losses.
Entering Tuesday, the Flyers are in third place in the Metro Division with 77 points. They are not, at this point, close enough to the first place Capitals (82 points) or Penguins (80 points) to discuss move-up scenarios in which starting the first round on home ice would be within the Flyers' grasp. For now, the Flyers' focus is on taking care of their own business so they don't have worry about what the teams behind them are doing.
Here's how things are situated:
* The Islanders are one point behind the Flyers, and hold a game in hand but the Flyers currently hold a 25-24 RW edge in the tiebreaker. The Islanders added J-G Pageau (signing him immediately to a contract extension) and Andy Greene before the trade deadline.
* The injury-riddled Blue Jackets finally snapped their losing streak last game to move back within a point of the Flyers. However, the Flyers hold two games in hand on Columbus and have a 25-23 RW advantage. The Blue Jackets acquired Devin Shore for out-of-favor winger Sonny Milano at the deadline.
* The Hurricanes, who were active buyers at the trade deadline (Vincent Trocheck, Sami Vatanen, Brady Skej) but left their single most glaring need -- goaltending -- unaddressed, are three points behind the Flyers but hold a game in hand. The teams are tied in the primary (25-25 RW), secondary (30-30 ROW) and tertiary (35-35 total wins) tiebreakers. The final tiebreaker is head-to-head record. The Flyers hold that advantage, going 2-0-1 against the Canes thus far.
Winners of seven of their last 10 games, the Flyers roster looks a little different since their 4-2 victory over Winnipeg on Saturday afternoon. On Sunday, Shayne Gostisbehere rejoined the team from a two-game conditioning stint with the Phantoms. On Monday, the Flyers acquired veteran forwards Derek Grant (from Anaheim) and Nate Thompson (from Montreal) in exchange for mid-round draft picks. Both players are unrestricted free agents this summer. Additionally, on Monday, the Flyers assigned rookies Joel Farabee and Connor Bunnaman to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
Carter Hart is the expected starter in goal against the Sharks.
Nearly perennial Western Conference contenders for the past decade, the Sharks have had a severe down year and fell out of the race early this season. Injuries to the likes of Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl, spotty performances from much the team, a change behind the bench and a general sense of being a team in need of roster transition have marked the 2019-20 season.
The Sharks were deadline sellers. They dealt Barclay Goodrow (who had recently been, almost by default, San Jose's No. 1 center) to the Tampa Bay Lightning for a first-round pick. Heart-and-soul defenseman Brenden Dillon went to Washington for a second-round pick. The second Sharks stint of franchise icon Patrick Marleau ended on Monday with the 40-year-old center being traded to Pittsburgh for a conditional 2021 third-round pick.
San Jose, in 13th place in the 15-team Western Conference, has only a spoiler's role to play the rest of the way this season. There is zero pressure, apart from self-imposed pressure to perform for pride and to compete to be part of the plan moving forward. The Sharks lost four in a row in regulation heading into Monday. Before that, San Jose had won four of five.
Couture is now day-to-day and is a game-day decision for this game.
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS (subject to change, will be updated)
28 Claude Giroux - 14 Sean Couturier - 93 Jakub Voracek
21 Scott Laughton - 13 Kevin Hayes - 11 Travis Konecny
25 James van Riemsdyk - 38 Derek Grant - 18 Tyler Pitlick
12 Michael Raffl - 44 Nate Thompson - 62 Nicolas Aube-Kubel
9 Ivan Provorov - 15 Matt Niskanen
6 Travis Sanheim -5 Phil Myers
8 Robert Hägg - 61 Justin Braun
79 Carter Hart
[37 Brian Elliott]
Power Play 1: Giroux, Couturier, Konecny, Voracek, Provorov.
Power Play 2: JVR, Hayes, Aube-Kubel, Sanheim, Niskanen.
Scratches: 53 Shayne Gostisbehere (healthy).
LTIR: 55 Sam Morin (torn ACL, out for season), 23 Oskar Lindblom (Ewing sarcoma, out for season), 19 Nolan Patrick (migraines).
28 Timo Meier - 19 Joe Thornton - 62 Kevin Labanc
9 Evander Kane - 70 Alexander True -11 Stefan Noesen
20 Marcus Sörensen - 46 Joel Kellman - 7 Dylan Gambrell
73 Noah Gregor - 40 Antti Suomela - xxxxxx
51 Radim Simek -- 88 Brent Burns
44 Marc-Edouard Vlasic - 38 Mario Ferraro
67 Jacob Middleton - 72 Tim Heed
53 Nicolas Meloche
31 Martin Jones
30 Aaron Dell
Power Play 1: Kane, Thornton, Labanc, Meier, Burns
Power Play 2: Noesen, Sörensen, True, Ferraro, Heed
Scratches: 53 Nicolas Meloche or a recall forward (healthy), 68 Melker Karlsson (day-to-day, lower body).
IR: 39 Logan Couture (ankle fracture, Jan. 6), 65 Erik Karlsson (broken thumb, Feb. 14), 48 Tomas Hertl (torn ACL and torn MCL, Jan. 28), 5 Dalton Prout (concussion).
TRADE DEADLINE WRAPUP
On trade deadline day, the Flyers made the following deals and roster moves:
* The team acquired C/W Derek Grant from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for AHL forward Kyle Criscuolo and a fourth-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. The Flyers currently hold two picks in the fourth round (their own and Nashville's), and the pick going to San Jose will be whichever is the earlier of the two picks in the round. Grant will wear No. 38 with the Flyers.
* The team acquired C Nate Thompson from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for the Flyers' fifth-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft. Thompson will wear No. 44 with the Flyers, worn previously this season by veteran winger Chris Stewart (now with the Phantoms).
* In a minor league deal, the team traded out-of-favor veteran defenseman TJ Brennan to the the Chicago Blackhawks organization for 22-year-old forward Nathan Noel. Concurrent with the trade announcement, the Flyers assigned Noel to the ECHL's Reading Royals.
* The Flyers assigned rookies Joel Farabee and Connor Bunnaman to the AHL's Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
For a detailed look at the Flyers two new acquisitions' playing styles and expected roles, click here
. For a rundown of general manager Chuck Fletcher's post-deadline press conference, including five key takeaway statements he made, click here