Flyers vs. Sharks preview: Big opportunity vs. tired, injured, road-weary San Jose

The Flyers stood pat at the deadline yesterday, but the San Jose Sharks did not, boosting the bottom of their forward corps with the acquisitions of Daniel Winnik and T.J. Galiardi from Colorado. Add that to the trade with Tampa Bay last week that brought Dominic Moore to town, and the Sharks' third line looks really strong.

10:30 p.m. at HP Pavilion in San Jose, California
TV:
NBC Sports Network | Radio: 94 WIP
They Don't Like Michal Handzus: Fear The Fin

Fear The Fin writes today that the hope in adding these guys is that Joe Thornton and Logan Couture can take less shifts against top competition, giving them better opportunities to put the puck in the net. I hear that leads to winning hockey games or something, so it's not a bad strategy. The deals also create a good dose of competition among the bottom six forwards in San Jose, and that's not necessarily a bad thing either.

All of this is particularly interesting tonight, I think, because Sharks head coach Todd McLellan will not be behind the bench. He got hit in the brain with a hockey stick on Sunday night during San Jose's game vs. Minnesota and is recovering from concussion-like symptoms. Assistant coaches will lead the way for the Sharks, and they're obviously all on the same page with how they run things, but with two new bodies in the lineup and a different voice behind the bench leading the way, the changes might not go over all that smoothly.

Another reason the Sharks might be a bit out of sync tonight: They're coming off of a road trip that saw them travel somewhere between 9,000 and 10,000 miles in total, only to get held up on the last leg of that trip in Minnesota because of engine troubles on their plane. (Yes, there's a difference between air travel and driving directions. I know. You get the point either way. It was the trip from hell.)

The Flyers are on a road-trip of their own, but it's safe to say they're not nearly as tired as the Sharks given the comparison. San Jose returned fromt that trip on Monday afternoon.

There are injuries to contend with for the Sharks, too. Martin Havlat tore his hamstring and is recovering from surgery, Douglas Murray fractured his Adam's apple (cringe) and new acquisition Moore has a lower-body injury. Couture was bumped around a bit in their last game and missed the latter portion of it. No word on Couture, but Havlat and Murray are out tonight.

The Flyers always seem to play poorly at HP Pavilion, at least as far as my memory is concerned. In a Finnish-language news story today, Kimmo Timonen opined about the "good game, bad game, good game, bad game" phase the Flyers are in right now. Coming off what could be called a good game in Calgary, it's really pretty vital for the Flyers to get out to a solid start tonight and play well. It's the first step in breaking out of these doldrums. Just string to solid wins together. Baby steps.

Ilya Bryzgalov will be in goal for the Flyers tonight, his fifth straight start. BSH Radio will be up pre-game around 5 p.m. Game thread will go live at 8 p.m. It's an extra late one tonight -- 10:30 start on NBC Sports Network. Stay up late with us.

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