Better With Popcorn

Weekly Flyers Preview: Feb. 3-9

This week, the Flyers finish up their pre-Olympic schedule with three Western Conference opponents.

Monday, February 3, 2014 @ San Jose Sharks (35-15-6, 76 points, 2nd Pacific) 10:30, TCN

The Sharks had a great January until the final week, where they lost three games in a row. San Jose rebounded to win their February opener over Chicago Saturday.

San Jose has the eighth ranked offense, averaging 2.84 goals per game. However, at SAP Center, they score 3.19 goals. Joe Pavelski leads the team, and is third in the league, with 29 goals. Pavelski was named a star of the month for January (12 goals in 15 games). Patrick Marleau has 22, giving San Jose one of the few 20 goal scoring duos.

Brent Burns has 14 while Tommy Wingels has ten. Tomas Hertl (15 goals) and Logan Couture (14) are both on injured reserve. Joe Thornton leads the club with 55 points (10th in the NHL) and is second in the league with 47 assists.

The Sharks are fourth in defense, as they only allow 2.30 goals each game. On home ice, however, they allow almost half a goal less at 1.85 per game. Antti Niemi has been fantastic this season, winning 28 games (second in the league), while posting a 2.35 goals against average and saving 91.4% of shots faced. At home, he has been even better, going 18-2-3. He has only allowed 1.96 goals per game and saved 92.6% of shots.

Despite the offensive firepower, San Jose's power play has been average. They have the 18th ranked power play, scoring on 17.8% of man advantages. Joe Pavelski has ten power play goals, ranking third in the league. Marleau has scored seven, while Dan Boyle has six. San Jose has a great penalty kill, especially at home, where they have killed 88.6% of penalties.

Thursday, February 6, 2014 vs. Colorado Avalanche (35-14-5, 75 points, 3rd Central) 7:00, CSN

Returning home Thursday, the Flyers face off against the surging Avalanche. Colorado has gone 11-3-1 since the new year began.

Colorado's sixth ranked offense averages three goals per game, lead by the 20 goal duo of Nathan MacKinnon and Ryan O'Reilly. Matt Duchene has 17 goals and leads the team with 47 points. Gabriel Landeskog and Paul Stastny each have 16 goals. Jamie McGinn, the sixth Colorado player in double figures, has 14.

MacKinnon has scored in three straight games, while Stastny (three goals in four games) and McGinn (four goals in five) are hot as well.

The Avalanche are 13th in goals against average, allowing 2.57 goals per game. New $29 million man Seymon Varlamov has established himself as the teams' number one goalie. This season, Varlamov is 28-9-5 with a 2.43 goals against average, while posting a .925 save percentage. He has won 11 of 13 games in 2014.

Colorado's 13th ranked power play scores on 19.4% of man advantages, led by MacKinnon's eight. Both Duchene and O'Reilly have five power play goals. Their penalty kill is middle of the road as well, ranking 14th at 81.4%.

Saturday, February 8, 2014 vs. Calgary Flames (21-27-7, 49 points, 6th Pacific) 1:00, CSN/NHLN

In the final game before the Olympic break, the Flyers face off against the Calgary Flames. The Flyers beat Calgary 4-1 on New Year's Eve at the Saddledome.

Lately, the Flames have been on a roll, winning five games in a row. However, all five were at home and Calgary takes to the road this week, where they are 9-13-4.

Calgary struggles to score goals, ranking 27th and averaging 2.33 goals per game. Rookie Sean Monahan leads the team with 15 goals and is followed by Jiri Hudler (14), Mikael Backlund (13) and Mike Cammalleri (13). Hudler leads the team with 42 points. Matt Stajan and Mark Giordano have nine goals each.

They also have a tough time keeping pucks out of their net as well, allowing 3.09 goals per game (27th). Karri Ramo has gotten most of the starts lately, but was injured Saturday. Reto Berra (7-14-2, 3.20. .891) will likely get the start in Ramo's absence. Berra has yet to win a game in regulation this season.

Calgary's power play ranks 27th at 14.3% and has the second least power play goals (25) in the league. Giordano leads Calgary with six power play goals. While the Flames have a middle-of-the-pack 80.4% penalty killing, their 73.3% road killing is a league worst.

Weekly Expectations: 2 points

Since November 18, Dan has predicted Flyers points

Realdeal: 48 points

Flyers: 43 points