The Philadelphia Flyers will hope to avoid a five-game losing streak with a depleted roster when they host the San Jose Sharks on Saturday.
The Flyers were dismantled 6-2 by the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday. To be fair, Philadelphia competed without numerous key players such as Travis Konecny, Travis Sanheim, Ivan Provorov and captain Claude Giroux.
All four have been placed under the league’s health and safety protocol and it’s unclear whether any will be cleared for Saturday.
A number of other players have been sidelined with injuries, highlighted by winger Sean Couturier and blueliner Ryan Ellis.
“In the world we live in today, this is more common than not,” James van Riemsdyk said. “But it’s a good opportunity for guys to play expanded roles and show what they can do.”
The Flyers dropped 10 in a row (0-8-2) earlier this season before firing head coach Alain Vigneault. After an initial surge under interim head coach Mike Yeo, the thin roster has been an issue as they’ve been losing again.
“We had nine or 10 guys out and six guys in protocol,” Scott Laughton said. “It’s a tough league to win that way.”
The defense struggled mightily in front of goaltender Carter Hart, who stopped 26 of 32 shots by the red-hot Penguins. There will be little time to rest as the talented Sharks come to town.
“In all honesty, we were missing some guys,” Yeo said. “How do you compensate for that? You up your compete level. You dig in harder to your team game. And obviously, you have to show more resilience, more heart, whatever you want to say.”
The Sharks will look for their second straight win when they visit Philadelphia.
In their most recent game Thursday, Tomas Hertl scored his team-high 17th goal, added one assist and led the Sharks past the Buffalo Sabres, 3-2.
Hertl has scored nine goals and added six assists in his last 11 games.
“I thought that Tommy showed amazing leadership,” Sharks head coach Bob Boughner said. “And not just because he scored the game winner. But he was sacrificing, he was blocking shots. His changes, he was making smart offensive zone changes. He was making sure on the bench, holding guys and pumping guys up and [giving] positive encouragement to other guys.
“He was just very part of the game tonight. He was very engaged, both verbally, and with his game,” Boughner added.
Sharks goaltender Adin Hill returned from the health and safety protocol for his first start since Dec. 16 and turned in an impressive performance with 37 saves.
“It was nice to see a lot of rubber, a lot of shots, get a feel for the puck in the net,” Hill said. “It was good and obviously getting the two points is huge. … Hopefully we can start stringing some together here.”
The Sharks have also been depleted with captain Logan Couture on the COVID list. Erik Karlsson, Jacob Middleton and goaltender James Reimer were all out with injuries as well.
“We’re playing shorthanded right now and we’re finding ways,” Boughner said.
–Field Level Media