After last night’s game versus the Vancouver Canucks, the Sharks boarded their plane and prepare to play against the Calgary Flames.They will take the ice in Calgary in less than 24 hours after the game against Vancouver. So far this season, the Sharks and Flames have only faced off once, resulting in a 4-1 victory for the Sharks in their first game of the season. Despite this success in Calgary earlier this season, the Sharks are 4-5-1 on the road this season, while the Flames are 5-5-2 at home in the 2012-2013 campaign. Much like this game and all of the other games the Sharks have played this season, this game will present a good challenge for the Sharks. At this point in the season, the Flames have 7th best power play in the NHL with a 21.33% conversion rate, scoring 16 goals in 75 chances. On the other end of the spectrum, the Flames have the 8th worst penalty kill in the NHL with a kill rate of 78.57%. So a struggling Flames penalty kill will be tested by a struggling Sharks power play, which is currently ranked 13th with a conversion rate of 17.35%. In comparison, the Flames 7th place power play will be opposed by the Sharks 4th ranked penalty kill. This will be a big game for the Sharks because they are only 7 points behind the Ducks and 1 point ahead of the Coyotes. Also, with this win, the Sharks are tied with the defending Champions for 2nd place in the Pacific Division. Tomorrow, the Kings will play the Stars in Los Angeles.
Keys to the Game:
- Score first – This season when the Sharks have scored first, they are 9-3-1. If they score first, they will have a good chance at winning.
- Faceoffs – The only time the Sharks played the Flames this year, the Sharks won 61% of faceoffs. This allowed them to set up plays and gain possession in order to make something happen.
- Special teams – As we saw in last night’s game, special teams are critical to success in a game. They Sharks were not only able to shut down the Canucks power play, but they were actually able to get a short-handed goal from Adam Burish.
- Goaltending – That night, the Sharks received a command performance from their player of the month for January and February, Antti Niemi. Because he played last night, Thomas Griess will most likely getting the start tonight.
- Forechecking – A key element that the Sharks weren’t able to be successful at against the Canucks. If the Sharks can successfully forecheck the Flames, they can disrupt the fluidity of their play and keep the puck in their attacking zone. The few times that the Sharks were able to successfully forecheck against the Canucks, they were able to get some good scoring chances.
- Stay Out of the Box – The Flames have a strong power play. Don’t test it. The Sharks need to avoid taking penalties, if possible, especially unnecessary penalties, like Clowe is notorious for.
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