FLYERS (12-5-1) at SHARKS (14-5-4)
Philadelphia 7-3-0; San Jose 6-1-3
This is the second and final meeting between the teams this season. The Sharks won the first game, in Philadelphia, on Oct. 25 as Manny Malhotra scored a pair of goals and Patrick Marleau
had a pair of assists.
Can the Flyers, who have won seven of their last eight, slow the streaking Sharks, who are 11-2-3 in their last 16 games to take the top spot in the League standings?
While Ray Emery's strong play in his return to the NHL has gotten the attention, backup Brian Boucher's win Wednesday in Los Angeles was a big moment for Philadelphia. He made 37 saves, including 20 on 21 shots in the third period. It was just his second game of the season.
"Clearly we're going to need (Boucher) to win us some hockey games as we move through the schedule here in November and December and on throughout the year," coach John Stevens said, "so it's great to see him get in and have some success."
San Jose hasn't played since Tuesday, but that comes after playing three games in four nights, all on the road. Coach Todd McLellan told the players to avoid the rink Wednesday, and there was a normal practice Thursday. While it was just one day, the break was key.
"Rest is important," captain Rob Blake told the team's Web site. "I think nowadays, with Ray (Tufts, head trainer) and the training staff, and with the coaches, they know the guys' fatigue level."
Who's Hot --
Flyers rookie forward James van Riemsdyk
has scored the game-winning goal in three straight games, and he is tied for the League lead with 4 game-winners. The Sharks' Patrick Marleau
has goals in two straight and he ranks in the top five in the League with 13 goals and 25 points.
Injury Report --
Flyers forward Arron Asham has a strained left oblique muscle and skipped the road trip. Sharks top-line forward Devin Setoguchi is questionable with a leg injury, while tough guys Brad Staubitz (face) and Jody Shelley
(general body soreness) also are questionable.
Stat Pack --
All the folks deciding on Olympic rosters should keep their eyes on this one. Of the 40 players dressing, as many as 14 could be playing in Vancouver in February -- Canada: Philadelphia's Jeff Carter, Mike Richards and Chris Pronger
, and San Jose's Joe Thornton
, Dany Heatley, Patrick Marleau
, Rob Blake and Dan Boyle
; U.S.: Philadelphia's James van Riemsdyk
, and San Jose's Joe Pavelski
; Finland: Philadelphia's Kimmo Timonen
; Latvia: Philadelphia's Oskars Bartulis
; Russia: San Jose's Evgeni Nabokov; Germany: San Jose's Thomas Greiss
Puck Drop --
The last time these teams met, both were in the same boat -- missing key players, playing the second game of back-to-backs and using their backup goaltenders. This time, however, both teams will be rested, and expect to see the top goalies for each team.