The Flyers got a win on Saturday. It was not a game that they played particularly well in, with a few exceptions. They spent probably about 70 to 75 percent of the game watching their opponent for the day, the Los Angeles Kings, handle the puck. They won thanks at least in part to the fact that they did a decent job keeping high-quality chances to a minimum, but for the most part they were bailed out by some outstanding goaltending by Steve Mason, some timely offense from Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds, and some great play on both sides of special teams.
Play like that and more often than not you're going to lose. But on a three-game roadie that we knew was going to be quite difficult coming in, two points are two points and we'll take them however they come.
Is four points too much to ask?
Philadelphia Flyers (27-23-6, 60 points) at San Jose Sharks (35-15-6, 76 points)
10:30 p.m. ET | HP Pavilion | San Jose, Calif.
TV: TCN Philly | Radio: 93.3 WMMR
Get the San Jose perspective at Fear the Fin
It might be. For one, as Frank Seravalli at the Daily News pointed out last week, of the previous ten teams to make the three-game trip to California this year, only one of them came out of it with a winning record. The odds are stacked a bit against the Flyers tonight.
And that's before you get to the part where they're just playing a really, really good team. There isn't a whole lot that the Sharks don't do well. They have talented players on all four of their forward lines, they can give all of their pairs on defense good minutes, and in net Antti Niemi is solid at worst and very good at best despite playing in basically every game for them.
That all said, they do come into today's game a bit cold, having won in a shootout on Saturday night to break a three-game losing streak and having scored a total of two non-shootout goals in those four games. Of course, there's some bad luck in there -- one of those losses came almost entirely thanks to a superhuman effort in net by Edmonton's Ben Scrivens, and in their win against Chicago they scored just one goal on 39 shots before winning in the shootout.
(Is "face a team in a scoring slump" a sustainable gameplan? Worked on Saturday, I guess.)
But yes. They're good all across the board, and they're 20-3-3 at home this year. Slumping or otherwise, this won't be easy.
The Sharks do come into this one a little shorthanded, though. Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl have both m. Nor will defenseman Jason Demers, who is out with the dreaded lower-body injury. They may be getting some reinforcements, as former Penguin and noted pig doppelganger Tyler Kennedy might draw back into the lineup after missing those last two games. But they aren't quite at full strength.
On our end, the Flyers might also be without a defenseman, as Kimmo Timonen -- a late scratch with a foot injury on Saturday -- is probably going to miss today's game as well. Assuming so, we'll probably see the same lineup as Saturday, with both Andrej Meszaros and Erik Gustafsson dressed. Craig Berube put together some odd combinations on defense in L.A., with Braydon Coburn and Nicklas Grossmann (two stay-at-home types) together and Meszaros and Mark Streit (two defensively-suspect puck-movers) together as well. If he knows Timonen will be out heading into this one, it'd be nice to see him mix those up a bit.
Up front, we could end up seeing Jay Rosehill back in the lineup, since the Sharks employ noted facepuncher Mike Brown and the Flyers must match him with another noted facepuncher and all that because Truculence and all of that shit. With everyone healthy, I'm not sure who he would draw in for -- probably Steve Downie, with Michael Raffl moving up to the third line -- but we'll find out if he makes it in the lineup later today, probably.
Steve Mason has two shutouts in his last three games, and with the chance to get him some rest coming up, we have to imagine he'll get the start yet again -- his fifth straight -- today. After a rough past several weeks, he's got a chance to build off of a really, really good game in L.A. on Saturday. For the other guys, Antti Niemi is probably the starter.
The Flyers played with fire a bit on Saturday, and though they did a decent job keeping the Kings out of the dangerous areas for most of the game, they can't let the other team have the puck for probably three-quarters of the game again tonight. San Jose is too good -- especially at home -- for that, slumping or otherwise. But if they can do at least a bit better of a job controlling the play today, and if they can keep cashing in on special teams, they'll have a chance.
10:30 p.m. start for you East Coasters. Hit the caffeine if you haven't already, friends. Fear the Fin is awesome for all things San Jose so give them a read today. Go Flyers.