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Game 9, Preview and Open Thread: Booooooooooooooooooooosh! San Jose Sharks at Philadelphia Flyers

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San Jose Sharks (6-4-1, 13 pts) at Philadelphia Flyers (5-2-1, 11 pts)
Wachovia Center - 7:00 PM EST - Philadelphia, PA
TV: CSN Philly HD, CSN California HD, RIS, NHL Network Canada
Radio: 610 WIP (internet stream), XM 204, Sirius 208
This is the open game thread.
Behind Enemy Lines: Fear The Fin, Battle of California

Brian Boucher will get his first start of the season tonight as his former team, the San Jose Sharks, travel to Philadelphia to take on the Flyers. The debate, of course, is who gets the edge: his former team that shoots against him in practice all year and knows his weaknesses, or the goalie who knows all of his former teammates? It's a tough question, but I guess we'll find out soon enough.

The Sharks really don't like Chris Pronger. We're talking hatred here. It was his eighth-seeded Ducks that knocked off the rival, first-seeded Sharks last year in the first round of the playoffs. But while that kind of history breeds contempt, it also breeds respect.

Here's an absolute gem from Fear The Fin today...

He's been Public Enemy Number One, labeled a menace to society, voted the dirtiest player in the NHL, been booed at 30 arenas in the league (even including one he played for), and cursed every organization that traded him. He's terrorized the Sharks for a decade, first with St. Louis, then with Edmonton, then with Anaheim.

And yet, I love the guy.

Call me a turncoat. Go ahead. I'll elbow you right in the mouth, stomp on your buddy, pulverize your star forward and defend my crease like lives are on the line. I'll play 30 minutes a night, make my below average partner look like a goddamn magician, kill penalties while skipping the shift change and thread a pass to spring a breakaway. I'll spit, I'll scowl, I'll swear, I'll flash a cocky grin.

Then I'll rip home a howitzer in the second overtime. And you will rue the day that I was ever born.

But enough hyperbole and more hockey. Defenseman Oskars Bartulis has been called up from the Phantoms for tonight's game, but there's no word on whether or not he'll be playing. He'll be available, but from what we all know, there is no injury to any of the Flyers defenseman outside of Ryan Parent who has already been out of the lineup for the past two games. Bartulis could take the place of either Ole-Kristian Tollefsen or Danny Syvret, but we're just not sure right now.

We expect the forward lines to be very similiar, if not identical, to what we saw last night against Florida. Mike Richards will play after the NHL decided not to levy a suspension upon him in the aftermath of his hit on David Booth. The offense last night was absolutely explosive last night and we should expect a similar outing tonight.

The Sharks held on for a one-goal victory last night in Atlanta against the Thrashers, but it didn't come without a cost. Forwards Devin Setoguchi and Ryan Vesce suffered leg injuries and will be out of the lineup. Two AHLers will play in their place. Tonight is the last game of a brutal six game East Coast road trip for the Sharks, and hopefully the fatigue they've got to be feeling works in the Flyers' favor.

Still, tired or not, the Sharks are a dangerous hockey club. In addition to Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, they now have Dany Heatley to give opposing players fits. Those three players combined for the four San Jose goals last night. We'll probably see Evgeni Nabokov in goal for San Jose.

After the jump, questions to answer tonight.

Questions To Answer

  1. The Sharks have got to be tired after this long road trip. Can the Flyers take advantage?
  2. Who has the advantage tonight, the Sharks offense or Brian Boucher?
    Can the Flyers successfully stop Heatley, Thornton, and Marleau?
  3. Does Pronger continue to be the subject of recurring nightmares in San Jose?

Tonight's game is on CSN locally, the NHL Network in Canada, and RIS in Quebec. You can also listen live with Tim Saunders and Chris Therien on 610 WIP. As always, join us here for the conversation, and LET'S GO FLYERS!