Take a break from thinking about the punishment we’re getting from the snow gods or the beatdown that was last night’s Super Bowl and try to think back and remember what you were doing on Dec. 21, 2000.
Pre-pubescent Greg was probably racing home from school to see what the top videos were on TRL that day and eagerly anticipating which WWF action figures and Nintendo64 games he would get from Santa for Christmas in a few days.
Anyway, try and think back to that day because it’s the last time the Philadelphia Flyers earned a victory over tonight’s opponent, the San Jose Sharks.
That may sound farcical, but it’s most certainly not. The Flyers haven’t beaten the Sharks in the teams’ last 13 meetings over the last 13 or so years. The Sharks hold and 11-0-2 vice grip over the Flyers in that span. Those weren’t two overtime or shootout losses, either. Those were two ties from the archaic, pre-lockout NHL days.
Either way, the fact remains that the Sharks have been the Flyers’ kryptonite whenever they’ve met for over the last decade.
Tonight’s road trip-concluding matchup at the Shark Tank will be of similar difficulty because San Jose is once again among the NHL’s elite.
San Jose trails just NHL-best Anaheim in a stacked Pacific Division and has the fourth-most points in the league with 76. San Jose also features top-15 points players in Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski, the latter of which is tied for third in the entire league with 29 goals and will play a prominent role for the U.S. in Sochi in a few weeks.
Don’t forget about Patrick Marleau or netminder Antti Niemi either. Niemi is tied for second in the league with 28 wins between the pipes. We don’t have to get into Niemi’s history against the Flyers.
San Jose’s record is even more impressive when you consider that it’s been without Logan Couture, one of the best young scores in the league, for an extended period of time with a wrist injury.
The good news for the Flyers is that they head into tonight’s contest with a good bit of momentum after a 2-0 shutout over the Los Angeles Kings this past Saturday afternoon in Hollywood.
Wayne Simmonds and Claude Giroux had the Flyer tallies.
Simmonds’ goal was the 100th goal of his career and, to make things even sweeter, it was a game-winning goal against his former team in his first game back in Los Angeles.
The Wayne Train also wore an “A” on his sweater as an assistant captain during the game as Kimmo Timonen missed the contest with foot injury. Mark Streit had previously worn the “A” when either Timonen or Scott Harntell, the Flyers’ other assistant captain, missed a game earlier this season.
It shows just how far Simmonds has come this season not only with his play and stats, but also with the fire he shows when on the ice and his leadership in the locker room. And to think he was reportedly on the trading block at one point during the Flyers’ messy start to the year. Simmonds and Steve Mason have been the backbone of the Flyers this season.
Speaking of Mason, he was the other big story to come out of the game in LA.
The Flyers goalie was superb in the 2-0 blanking of the Kings as he made 35 saves. And they weren’t easy saves either as the Kings brought all kinds of pressure for extended periods of time.
Mason will start again tonight in San Jose.
And the Flyers needed all 35 of those saves because they managed just 13 shots of their own. Those 13 shots were the lowest amount of shots in any game, win or loss, in team history. The NHL record for fewest shots on goal in a win is nine, if you were wondering.
The Flyers began this trip this past Thursday in Anaheim knowing it wouldn’t be easy to travel out to California and win three games against three of the best the NHL has to offer. They played well in Anaheim but came up on the short end.
If they can finally break through against the Sharks tonight, two out of three ain’t bad, right?