That wait is finally over. Philadelphia Flyers hockey is back in action and what a way to start things up again. The Flyers will host the San Jose Sharks tonight at the Wells Fargo Center in what will be game N0. 60 for both clubs. San Jose hasn’t completely punched their ticket to the playoffs yet, though it’s highly unlikely that they will miss the cut. They do have a 15-point lead over the No. 8 seeded Vancouver Canucks. At this point, the Sharks are playing for a high seed in hopes for a home-ice advantage. The Flyers, however, now their situation is just a tad different. Just kidding; their situation is completely different.
The Flyers are currently ranked sixth in the Eastern Conference playoff standings and a mere five points separates the No. 3 seed from the No. 8 seed. Five is also the number of points separating the Flyers and five other teams from a playoff spot. I wouldn’t say they’re desperate, but they’re definitely on their heels a little bit more than the Sharks are. Tonight’s game has huge implications.
Not only is it the first game back since a lengthy break, but San Jose is first in line for a group of colossal teams Philadelphia will have to play in the remainder of the season. Philadelphia beat San Jose just a few short weeks back, and there is no reason why they can’t do it again tonight.
In their last meeting, Philly was able to chase Anti Niemi late and score four clutch goals in the third period. They were able to do so off of 28 shots, but the orange and black won’t want to cut it too short this time around. Having their backs against the wall is something they have fared pretty well with this season, but considering the importance of this game, it’s something they’re better off not flirting with. San Jose ranks fifth in the NHL for shots given up per game, so if Philly can shoot often, they have a good chance at beating Niemi.
The power play department is something else that will favor the Flyers in this contest. They are tied for fourth with 42 power play goals and rank in at 11th for power play percentage. Pulling San Jose off its game and drawing penalties will definitely bring them closer to a victory.
Early containment will also play a huge factor in the outcome for the Flyers. San Jose leads the league in first period goals with 60. Keeping the Sharks out of the Philadelphia zone is a must, especially in the first period of play.
As they proved last time, third period play will weigh in the favor of Philadelphia as well. The Sharks seemingly are drained by the third period, ranking in at 27th for third period goals with only 46. Philadelphia, however, ranks in at third with 67.
It won’t be easy, but Philadelphia needs to virtually do the same thing they did last game. As long as they keep up early and attack late, they very well could come out on top again.