Jan 30, 2014, 5:43 PM EDT
Sun, sandy beaches, palm trees, celebrities, NWA, earthquakes, cable cars and bridges, just to name a few, right?
Not elite-level NHL hockey and hellish road trips.
Well, if you’re a fan of the Philadelphia Flyers, those are exactly the things that should be on your mind over the next week.
That’s because the Flyers start a three-game hell trip through the Golden State tonight when they visit the Anaheim Ducks, the NHL’s best team. The trip also takes them to visit the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks.
Those three teams are at the top of the Pacific Division and are widely considered among the NHL’s elite.
The question is which Flyers team will show up on this trip?
Will it be the one that, before Tuesday’s 5-0 blanking of the Detroit Red Wings, lost seven of 10 games, turned the puck over way too much, took too many penalties, could barely score, couldn’t get out of its own way trying to get out of its own zone and made awful puck decisions?
The last time that Flyers team showed up against an elite NHL team, the Boston Bruins thoroughly embarrassed them and slapped them in the face by a score of 6-1 this past Saturday afternoon.
Or will it be the team that took advantage of its opportunities, played sound defensive hockey, limited the turnovers, figured out how to get the puck out of its zone and made good puck decisions against the albeit shorthanded Red Wings?
That’s the million dollar question over the next week but it better be the Flyers team we saw on Tuesday night because things could get ugly and get ugly quick on this trip.
And Philadelphia can’t afford things to get ugly with as packed as the Eastern Conference standings are just a week or so away from the Olympic break. Three regulation losses would obviously hurt.
The trip starts tonight in Anaheim, California against a Ducks team with an NHL-best 83 points.
The good news is the Flyers got their feet under them and got some confidence back with the win over the Wings and that Zac Rinaldo will return to the lineup.
The bad news is the Ducks are 21-2-2 at home and come into the game in the top-10 in the league in goals-allowed per game, goals-scored per game, shots-allowed per game and shots per game. To make matters worse, the Ducks’ two home regulation losses have come in their last two home games so they’ll come into this one pretty ticked off at that.
The Flyers better have their skating legs underneath them or look out.
After tonight, the Flyers travel up the freeway to Staples Center to visit the Los Angeles Kings for a matinee this upcoming Saturday afternoon.
Ignore the fact that the Kings are 3-6-1 in their last 10 games and can barely shoot the puck into the Pacific Ocean right now. They are still an incredibly dangerous team with boatloads of talent on both sides of the puck and in net.
Acquaint yourself with Jonathan Quick, because he should be America’s No.1 goalie in Sochi.
The Kings also feature a few players you may have heard of before, but hasn’t that fact been pulverized into the ground enough? It was almost three years ago now. Get over it. And, by the way, Mike Richards has just seven goals and is minus-3 in 55 games this season.
The trip wraps up Tuesday night in San Jose against the Sharks, who have been on fire recently with a 7-3 record in their last 10 games. Their most recent loss was a ridiculous 59-save shutout at the hands of the Edmonton Oilers. Don’t worry, it was Ben Scrivens in net for the Oilers. Of course it wasn’t Ilya Bryzgalov.
The Flyers have struggled mightily in recent years against the Sharks but we’ll see how the first two games of the trip go before they get to the Bay Area on Tuesday.
The best part of this trip is that nocturnal hockey owls like myself now have an excuse to stay up into the wee hours of the morning. Let’s just say it’s a little prep for the impending all-nighters in a few weeks for Olympic hockey live from Russia.
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