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FLYERS-SHARKS GAME DAY

Thursday, 02.27.2014 / 2:23 PM
By Anthony SanFilippo - Philadelphia Flyers Inside Reporter / Flyers Inside Out
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FLYERS-SHARKS GAME DAY

PHILADELPHIA – The Flyers have the longest active winning streak in the NHL – and they want to keep it that way.

However, doing it against the San Jose Sharks is going to be a tall order, especially without Kimmo Timonen, who will rest tonight and return to the lineup Saturday against the New York Rangers after a long trek back and forth to Sochi where he won a bronze medal with team Finland.

Erik Gustafsson returns to the lineup and will play with Luke Schenn on the third pairing while Andrej Meszaros moves up to the second pairing with Mark Streit and Nicklas Grossmann climbs to the top pairing with Braydon Coburn.

Meanwhile, the Sharks are getting healthy and welcome two players back to the lineup.

Logan Couture, who missed the past 16 games with a hand injury, is back to center a strong second line with Martin Havlat and Patrick Marleau.

Meanwhile, noted pest Raffi Torres is back in the lineup as well playing for the first time all season after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in the preseason.

Torres hasn’t played a meaningful game in nine months after being suspended for the playoffs for a cheap hit on Los Angeles Kings forward Jarret Stoll.

So, the Flyers have to be ready from puck drop, because the Sharks are a strong puck possession team who also average nearly 35 shots on goal per game.

“They have some guys back and they’re a very good hockey team and we know it,” said coach Craig Berube. “We’re going to have to play well tonight without the puck. We’re going to have to check well and we’re going to have to be smart and make sure we’re not turning the puck over in the neutral zone. It’s little things like that when you play a team like San Jose that you have to be really good at.”

Especially in the first period.

The Flyers, who are notoriously slow starters, can’t worry about shaking off the rust gradually and instead have to be on point early. Otherwise, they can be in trouble against San Jose.

The Sharks have outscored their opponents 60-31 in first periods this season, making the opening stanza all the more important.

For his part, Berube thinks the team is ready and said he feels that the way practice has been going for the past week-plus, he doesn’t feel they will be sluggish once they hit the ice tonight.

“Practices have been sharp and the guys look like they have a lot of energy,” he said. “Practices are practices but when you look sharp and are skating it tends to carry over to the game.”

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NOTES: The Flyers will not see Sharks starting goalie Antti Niemi, who like Timonen was a late return from the Olympics for Team Finland. Instead Alex Stalock will get the nod and he’s been good for the Sharks with an 8-3-0 record and a 1.61 goals against average and a .942 save percentage…. Steve Mason starts for the Flyers, It’s his 44th start of the season… Jake Voracek shaved his trademark red beard this morning. When asked why he said “It’s a fresh start.” Of course, he hopes to not have to shave again until June.

To contact Anthony SanFilippo email asanfilippo@comcast-spectacor.com or follow him on Twitter @InsideTheFlyers

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Giroux 82 28 58 7 86
J. Voracek 82 23 39 11 62
W. Simmonds 82 29 31 -4 60
S. Hartnell 78 20 32 11 52
M. Streit 82 10 34 3 44
B. Schenn 82 20 21 0 41
M. Read 75 22 18 -4 40
S. Couturier 82 13 26 1 39
V. Lecavalier 69 20 17 -16 37
K. Timonen 77 6 29 5 35
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 33 18 7 .917 2.50
R. Emery 9 12 2 .903 2.96
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