Statement game for Flyers; want chance to attend Winter Classic?

     SAN JOSE, Calif.  _ Before the season, I picked San Jose and Washington to play in the Stanley Cup Finals.

    But, it wouldn't be so far-fetched to imagine a Flyers-Sharks matchup, either.

    That's why tonight's 10 o'clock matchup between the Flyers and host San Jose could have long-range implications.

    Last month, the Flyers _ despite having a 38-28 advantage in shots _ were defeated by visiting San Jose, 4-1, in a matchup of the teams' backup goalies.

     Tonight, the Flyers and Sharkes will use their No. 1 netminders _ Ray Emery and Evgeni Nabokov _ in a matchup of two of the NHL's hottest teams.

    The Flyers have won seven of their last eight; the Sharkes are 9-1-3 in their last 13.

   This is the teams' final regular-season meeting, so if the Flyers want to make a statement, tonight is the time to do it. Should the teams meet in the Finals, a win would do wonders for the Flyers tonight.

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   Comcast SportsNet, together with the Flyers and Schuylkill Valley Sports, is holding a contest in which the grand prize is a trip to the Winter Classic _ the Jan. 1 meeting between the Flyers and Bruins at Boston’s Fenway Park.
    Fans can log onto and enter keyword “Winter Classic” to register for a chance to win a package that includes two game tickets, travel via Amtrak, two nights of hotel accommodations, a Flyers Winter Classic jersey, and other items.

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    James van Riemsdyk has the game-winning goal in the Flyers' last three victories _ one shy of the NHL record for rookies. The left winger from Middletown, N.J., has scored at least a point in 12 of his 15 games.