The Philadelphia Flyers will finish off their three game California road trip tonight at the SAP Center against the San Jose Sharks. Game time is 10:30pm (EST) and the game will be televised on TCN Philadelphia.
The Flyers have already fared better than expected on this pre-Olympic, West Coast swing. After playing a relatively good game against the NHL leading Anaheim Ducks, although they lost 5-3, the Flyers went into Los Angeles and shut out the Kings, 2-0. The Flyers were out shot 35-13 against the NHL’s best possession team, but Steve Mason came up with his 3rd shutout of the season and his second in three games. Kimmo Timonen, who missed Saturdays game in LA, will be out tonight against San Jose.
The Sharks are one of the best teams in the NHL. With a record of 35-15-6 (76pts) they sit second in the Pacific Division. The Sharks are backstopped by the NHL’s most used goalie, Antti Niemi. Niemi sports a .914 SV% and a 2.35 GAA. Sharks center Joe Thornton is 2nd in the NHL in assists (47) behind Sidney Crosby, while forwards Joe Pavelski (29) and Patrick Marleau (22) lead the team in goals. Rookie winger Tomas Hertl is out with an injury.
-This is the first of two meetings this month between the Flyers and Sharks. They will face off again on February 27th, when each team returns from the Olympic break.
-With Timonen out, the defense pairings should look something like this:
Braydon Coburn – Nicklas Grossmann
Erik Gustafsson – Luke Schenn
Mark Streit – Andrej Meszaros
-Steve Mason fell upon hard times in December and January, but he started February off with a bang. The Flyers netminder still sports a .916 SV% and a 2.54 GAA. He has shut outs in two of his last three games and played well against Anaheim despite allowing four goals. With Timonen out again, Mason will need to be stellar to stifle the Sharks attack.