Feb 8, 2010, 5:22 PM EDT
Because of the current NHL scheduling system, the Flyers don't often play the San Jose Sharks. I've mildly griped about the system before, as it gets a little boring seeing the Islanders countless times and the best of the west only once or so a season. I'm sure it's easier on flights and the like, but it's hard to get a handle on what the Western Conference has to offer in terms of its styles of play and some of the very talented players we barely get to see. It also gives us very little opportunity to dust off all our shark references. Do we go with SNL's classic Land Shark? Kevin Spacey and Frank Whaley's unsung revenge classic Swimming With Sharks? The league clearly hasn't weighed all the important factors.
While most of the faces aren't that familiar, the one behind the mask will be. Antero "Maki Shark" Niittymaki will get the start in net for San Jose (OK I'm done with the shark references. Probably.)
Despite having back-to-back games tonight and tomorrow night, Peter Laviolette resisted the temptation to start Niitty's successor against him. Brian Boucher will watch as Sergei Bobrovsky goes for yet another win, and yet another reason to believe we're beyond the days of insufficient goalie tandems like Niitty and Biron.
Speaking of which, who was your favorite not-at-all-good-enough Flyers goalie tandem? I'm partial to Roussel/Soderstrom (with a hint of Beauregard). Maybe we'll crack this open again in a future post, but as much as we kinda liked him, Niitty is such a link in the chain that has gone on for most of our lives. Glimmers of Maybe, but ultimately just another guy. So far, he hasn't been a Former-Flyer Flyer-Killer, losing both starts against his old team while with the Lightning last season.
We're still looking for some improved efficiency on the powerplay tonight, and hoping we're not at the start of the Flyers Flu season. Ville Leino missed some practice time this week with symptoms not unlike the ones I had over Thanksgiving, and we know how much the locker room can be like that town they were going to bomb in Outbreak (not a shark movie). We'd also love to see the Flyers end a somewhat embarrassing streak of 10 STRAIGHT YEARS of not beating the Sharks, even if it's not actually that many games. For more on that, check out PhilaBright's look at the decade-long losing streak.
Out-of-towners rejoice, the action is on Versus. One final note: Speaking of goalies, the Flyers are continuing their farewell to the Spectrum tonight. by honoring Bernie Parent with the retired number 1 banner that hung there, giving a small replica to fans in attendance.
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