Sharks Gameday: Let's Stick It to Comcast
@ 4:00 PST
13-9-4, 30 points 17-7-4, 38 points 9th in Western Conference 4th in Eastern Conference
Here is what I remember about the Flyers.
First, every night there is an NHL game on Versus, the Flyers is always one of the teams playing. Why the hell not, since Versus is owned by Comcast, that owns the Flyers?
Second, the Sharks actually swept the Flyers last season. I remember the game in San Jose much better. Someone called me the last minute and offered close-to-front row tickets behind the penalty box. Dany Heatley was hot at the time, and going to the game, I grabbed one of the many hideous baseball hats with corporate logo that we own in case Dany pulls another hat trick. (Remember how he easily he'd get them when he first got to San Jose?) That turned out to be a wise move, as Heatley did score another hatty, allowing my household to get rid of another ugly hat in the sweetest way any hockey fan can. The Sharks went on to win that game 6-3. This wasn't the last I saw of my hat - I saw it again on the ice during the game highlights on NHL Network when I got home.
Third, I remember that prior to that game in San Jose, Flyers were playing well. After the big loss in San Jose, things started to fall apart, and just two weeks later, they fired John Stevens. Maybe it was my hat?
Fourth, I remember that the Flyers had to win a shootout (thanks in part to our buddy Brian Boucher) to even make playoffs.
Fifth, I remember that strange goal by Patrick Kane in June. As strange as it was that the team with so much talent had to rely on a shootout win to make playoffs - just as strange was how far they went after an up-and-down regular season, how they beat the Bruins and how that season of a lifetime for their goaltender Michael Leighton had to end on the softest goal of all of playoffs.
Wanting to prove that the last season was not a fluke, and that Flyers are for real, they started strong and managed to stay near the top of the Eastern Conference for most of the season so far. This time it's an unlikely hero Sergei Bobrovski (aka Bob), a Russian rookie sensation in goal, that deserves most of the credit. Not a mystery back in Russia, where Bobrovsky was a regular for the KHL club Mettallurg Novokuznetsk, he is still a big surprise in the NHL this season. Since Leighton came down with injury, Bob used a chance to impress North Americans to his full advantage - he started by beating the Pens in their season opener at the new arena, and have since won 13 more games. Another surprise - he's actually a Russian. On the Flyers roster.
Bob's dominance in goal compensates for an otherwise average statistics by the Flyers as a team. They do score a lot of goals - but quite a few of these goals are against the teams like the Leafs and the Hurricanes. They are pretty close to the Sharks in terms of shots allowed. But they're also right in the middle of the pack when it comes to their special teams - 16th power play unit in the league and 13th penalty kill.
The Flyers played six contests against Western Conference teams and lost 4 of them, including losses to the Blues, the Ducks and even the Flames. Sharks, on the other hand, won 4 out of 7 contest against Eastern conference teams so far.
On some nights, the Flyers can beat the Capitals. On other nights, they can lose to the Devils or the Ducks. Sounds familiar?
Enough about them. The Sharks are coming off a rather emotional win in Detroit. While the scoreboard looked great, Todd McLellan had this to say about the team, "Me, I'm very disappointed in our guys". The mood in the locker room after the game was not a happy one, as everyone still remembered how badly the Sharks played in the first period. The team held a meeting in between periods and it worked - the rest of the game in Detroit saw the same Sharks that eliminated the Red Wings out of the Stanley Cup playoffs last May.
That's always a question this season - which San Jose team is going to show up - the one that can beat Detroit in Detroit, or the one that can lose to Columbus at home?
Based on what we heard about the mood of the team and the tone of the coaches, they're are getting tired of this schizophrenic hockey. Now is a good time to start playing good hockey for longer than a period or even one game.
And why not continue what started in the 2nd period in Detroit by embarrassing the Flyers on their favorite TV channel?
PREDICTION: Sharks win 5-1, on goals by Heatley (3), Wallin and Pronger.