The Philadelphia Flyers are returning from their holiday break with a trip to California for the new year! Not a bad vacation if you ask me. However, they still have to play hockey, and their first game comes against the San Jose Sharks, who are currently swimming at the bottom of the league standings.
The Flyers and Sharks are both 3-5-2 in their last 10 games, and both teams sit with the same amount of wins (11). However, the Sharks have played one more game and have two more regulation losses, coming in for a record of 11-19-6. Philadelphia possesses a record of 11-17-7.
The Sharks came out with a 3-0 victory in the first matchup between these two teams. Erik Karlsson, who has been having an incredible season so far with 48 points in 36 games and leads the team over the last 5 games with 8 points, scored the first and eventual game-winning goal, and James Reimer had the 30 save shutout. Felix Sandstrom started that game, saving 22 shots of 24 total shots on goal.
On the surface, these two teams seem to be somewhat evenly matched. Probably the biggest difference is the special teams. San Jose is 14th in the NHL in power player percentage (22.8%) and impressively sits second in the NHL on the penalty kill at 84.9 percent. The Flyers, however, sit 31st on the man advantage with a 15.2 percent conversion rate and are 24th on the penalty kill at 74.5 percent.
For the Flyers, on an individual level, they will not have Carter Hart available to play, as they haven’t since he went on injured reserve on Wednesday, December 28.
Their best player has been Travis Konecny, who leads the team in points with 32 in 29 games and 4 goals and 7 points over the last 5 games. Defenseman Cam York leads the team in four assists over the last five games, and in his eight games since being thrust into the lineup on December 9, he has five points in eight games, which is great to see for a young defenseman on a struggling team.
This game is one that the Flyers could win, but it all depends on shutting down the Sharks' big guns in Karlsson, Timo Meier, Tomas Hertl, and Logan Couture. All of them are threats to score whenever they’re on the ice, and the goaltending also needs to step up to help the players up front. So even though their records are similar, there are some key differences on special teams and now in the net.
Van Riemsdyk - Frost - Tippett
Farabee - Cates - Konecny
Hayes - Laughton - Allison
Deslauriers - Brown - MacEwen
Provorov - York
Sanheim - Deangelo
Braun - Ristolainen