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Flyers vs Sharks Preview: Trip through Death Valley begins in San Jose

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Will there be blood in the water? Will the Flyers flounder? Will they go belly up? Whatever, I can't think of good shark puns. Watch the damn game.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Flyers are pretty stinkin' bad as of late and you shouldn't expect it to get better anytime soon.

Is that too pessimistic?

Tonight, during one of those fun and only vaguely annoying 10:00 starts (hahahaha), the Flyers will take on the San Jose Sharks to kick off a nasty journey through California.

To be completely honest, I have no idea what happened in the Flyers most recent game Saturday in New York because I was getting shitfaced instead of subjecting myself to abject torture. After Claude Giroux's high-sticking penalty and the ensuing Rangers goal (which I watched at the bar as my friends and I waited for a table), I washed the Flyers from my memory. I didn't think of anything orange or hockey related. And what a wonderful time it was. After reading Charlie's recap of the Flyers 5-2 loss, I felt good about my decisions, despite the harm I may have caused my liver.

The state of California is good at hockey. You are either aware of this or you've been hiding under a rock for the past several years. Combine that with the ass-beatings the Flyers got from the Rangers and the general unsteadiness that has been part and parcel with the team, and you've got a bad stretch of schedule coming up.

Thankfully, the Flyers are starting out against probably the weakest of the three California teams.

The Sharks had one hell of an off-season. After the memorable and perhaps unforgettable reverse sweep, the team stripped Joe Thornton of his captaincy. The Sharks proceeded to rebuild in a bizarre way, making some strange signings: John Scott, Tye McGinn (hey, I know that guy), and Micheal Haley. They also re-signed Mike Brown. It looked like they were struggling.

They haven't been incredibly good lately, but there's reason to believe that they're on the verge of getting back to true form.

San Jose has plenty of weapons, both offensive and defensive. Thornton, Marleau, Pavelski, Vlasic ... and with the emergence of adorable Tomas Hertl coupled with a proven threat like Logan Couture, winner of the "funniest looking overbite" NHL superlative, they have a nice balance of power, speed, and finesse. Plus, they have Brent Burns, who has a Harry Potter tattoo and brings a bag of toys around with him on road trips and is also good at hockey. They're just good.

On to line updates. Per Frank Seravalli, Vinny Lecavalier will be healthy scratched for the first time in his career. I really didn't think the coaching staff would have the balls to do something like that, but hey, what do I know? On a similar ballsy note, R.J. Umberger has been demoted to the fourth line should the projected lines hold for tonight. GOOD.

Of course, with good news comes objectively bad news, like the fact that Zac Rinaldo will be skating with the third line. Yeah, the third line. Yes, the same third line that has been criticized for not producing points. There's an easy solution to that third line's problems, obviously. Stick a tough, gritty winger with heart on it. Preferably a tough, gritty winger with heart who scored all of two goals last season. Yeah. Nice.

The Flyers are bottom five in the league right now. Oof. If that doesn't say "in desperate need of a win," I don't know what does. For the next week, though, wins are going to be hard to come by. It'd do wonders for their confidence if they could get out of the Shark Tank with a win, especially against a team they're not supposed to win against. I'm not holding my breath, but still ... sneaking wins is much more fun than losing.

This will be a late one. I've got my Flyers pajama pants all laid out. Let's get some points. Go Flyers.