The San Jose Sharks haven’t been a thorn in the side of the Flyers — they’ve been a hatchet.
Since the lockout of 2004-05, Philadelphia has gone 0-4-2 against the Western Conference power, being outscored 30-16 during that span. And that’s just lately. The Flyers haven’t cracked the Sharks in 11 previous meetings, dating back to Dec. 21, 2000, which marks their last win over the Bay Area teals.
However, this season, the two squads have been on different paths. And come 7 PM tonight at the Wells Fargo Center, it could be the Flyers that go Shark hunting and bring that near decade-long winless drought to an end.
The Flyers’ goaltending fears turned into reality on Friday afternoon, when general manager Paul Holmgren announced that starting goalie Michael Leighton, who signed a two-year, $3.1 million contract in the offseason, will undergo lower back surgery to repair a bulging disc that turned herniated.
He is expected to miss a minimum of 6-8 weeks.
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The Flyers sure know how to make things interesting.
On Thursday morning, just hours before the team is set to open the season at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Flyers coach Peter Laviolette informed the media that 22-year-old rookie goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky will make the start for Philadelphia tonight against the Penguins.
The fog that clouded the Flyers’ roster situation all of training camp has suddenly lifted.
In a conference call on Monday, days prior to the Flyers’ season opener against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Oct. 7, Philadelphia general manager Paul Holmgren cleared the air the best he could, starting with the issues at goaltender and ending with injury updates.
The Flyers kept the preseason momentum moving on Wednesday, as they easily dispatched the limited New York Islanders, 3-1, at the Wells Fargo Center to earn their first regulation exhibition victory.
The win improves Philadelphia’s preseason record to 4-1-2.
Jeff Carter scored twice in the first period and rookie Sergei Bobrovsky dazzled, playing all three periods and making 32 saves on 33 shots. Forwards Ville Leino and Blair Betts both saw their first action of the preseason since recovering from offseason surgery.
The Flyers continue the road to the regular season on Friday, when they host the Buffalo Sabres at 7 PM. The game can be seen on CSN.
Injuries have suddenly struck the Flyers hard.
On Tuesday morning, it was announced that goaltender Michael Leighton will miss a month with a bulging disc in his back and forward Ian Laperriere will be out indefinitely with post-concussion syndrome.
It wasn’t always pretty, but the Flyers started the preseason off right with a 4-3 shootout victory over the visiting New Jersey Devils, Tuesday at the Wells Fargo Center.
Darroll Powe, Jeff Carter and Danny Briere each had a goal and rookie goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky took home the win with three shootout saves and seven in regulation. Goaltender Michael Leighton started the game strong, but slowed down in the second period. He finished with 20 saves on 23 shots. Claude Giroux and Mike Richards scored in the shootout.
What happens when a team graduates it’s two top prospects then trades their first-round draft picks three years in a row? You likely get a prospect camp roster similar to the one the Flyers will have the week of July 5, at the Skate Zone in Voorhees, N.J.
The typically exciting prospect camp has been accompanied by limited fanfare the past two seasons due to the lack of high-end prospects. James van Riemsdyk highlighted the 2009 camp with Claude Giroux headlining 2008. But with both players now securely with the Flyers, and no 2009 or 2010 first-round picks to help carry the slack, the 2010 prospect camp is loaded with tryouts (12), college, junior and KHL signings (9) and low draft selections (15).
But that doesn’t mean it’s a total wash.