They’ve tried twice before, but the Calgary Flames have not yet found a way to cage the San Jose Sharks.
The Sharks, winners of three straight, have bested the Flames in both meetings this season, leaving Calgary coach Bob Hartley with a tough task ahead on Monday.
“Obviously we know who we’re facing,” Hartley said. “We’re facing a team that is unbelievably deep talent wise. They put pucks on the net whether they’re on the power play or 5-on-5. This is not a good building to come and play.
“They’re a real tough team to beat so we will have to be at our best. I love the challenge. Looking at the way we played in Vancouver, we showed lots of hard work, lots of grit and it’s too bad that we lost in OT.
“Tonight’s a similar challenge, even more speed. They’re a fast team. We should see a good one.”
San Jose won the first of two meetings this season at the SAP Center by a score of 6-3 on Oct. 19. They also took a 3-2 overtime decision in Calgary on Nov. 12.
Joe Colborne, who is expected to skate on the wing with Sean Monahan and Paul Byron, knows taking two points in San Jose isn’t going to be easy.
“Where to begin with these guys?” he started. “They’re probably, if not the deepest team, they’re definitely in the top two or three. They play a high-energy game, especially at home. They really take advantage of their crowd and come out strong.”
RUSSELL, JONES BACK
The Flames will have some added help jumping on the Sharks Monday with the returns of Kris Russell and David Jones.
Jones, who missed eight games with an eye injury, is excited to make his return.
“It’s great,” he said. “Whenever you’re hurt, you just don’t feel like you’re really part of the team. You’re kind of doing your own thing, your workouts are on your own and the team goes away, you’re not with them. It’s nice to get back around the boys and that’s the best part about it. Getting back in tonight is going to feel great.”
Russell missed 13 straight with a second-degree MCL sprain. He, not unlike Jones, is happy to finally get back in.
“It’s tough sitting in the stands watching,” Russell said. “The guy’s have played hard. Hopefully I can come in and be a little bit of a spark.”
THE OTHER SIDE
Sharks coach Todd McLellan is more than aware of Calgary’s lunch pail attitude.
And despite taking four points from the Flames in two meetings, he admitted it hasn’t been a cakewalk.
“Tight games. Not easy affairs,” McLellan said. “I think back to the one in Calgary, it went into overtime. Even the one here, we get out to a lead and they stick with things there. They’ve got a very good work ethic. Their team unity is very strong. Scrappy group that keep their noses over the puck a lot. We expect that type of game from them.”
What McLellan doesn’t expect, though, is a repeat of Calgary’s game against the Vancouver Canucks, a fight-filled affair that saw eight ejections just two seconds after puck drop.
“That’s Calgary’s last game. That’s not San Jose’s last game,” he said. “We don’t have to be concerned about it.
“What happens if Doug Wilson signs Wayne Gretzky or Bobby Orr today? Where do I play them? I can’t worry about hypothetical situations. They get to start their lineup. We get to start ours.”
“We will have to be at our best. No outnumbered situations to take the offensive zone plays as quickly as we can and hopefully catch them on our transition game. You look at that team. Their offensive power, it’s unbelievable. They have great shooters. They see the ice well. They move the puck well. They’re gifted with the puck. When you give them a shot around the net, you know it’s going to be a Grade A chance and that’s what we want to try to avoid for tonight’s game.”
AGAINST THE SHARKS
Calgary’s All-time record vs. SJ: 50-37-9-1-3
Calgary’s All-time record at SJ: 23-21-4-0-2
Last 10 games vs. SJ: 3-5-2
Last 10 games at SJ: 3-6-1
Monday’s tilt between Calgary and the Sharks will be broadcast on Sportsnet West (TV) and Sportsnet 960 The Fan (Radio) at 8:30 p.m. MST.