Reeling Flyers Take On Streaking Bruins
Philadelphia Flyers (11-13-1) at Boston Bruins (15-3-3)
TD Garden — Boston, MA
1:00 p.m. on Comcast Sportsnet, 97.5 FM The Fanatic and NHL Network
Setting the Stage
The Philadelphia Flyers are coming off of an unacceptable 5-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on their home ice. Now, after losing two games to contending teams, they have one more big test against another big contender, the Boston Bruins. The Bruins have played simply sensational hockey this season, only losing three times in regulation.
The Flyers are hoping to get defenseman Andrej Meszaros back in the lineup this afternoon after missing considerable time with a shoulder injury. This will instantly improve the 25th ranked defense in the NHL.
Boston is coming off of a 4-2 win against the rival Toronto Maple Leafs. They are 7-2-1 in their last ten games. Tyler Seguin (2 G, 1 A) and Patrice Bergeron (1 G, 2 A) are both coming off of three point evenings against the Leafs. Bergeron leads the way for the Bruins in scoring with 6 goals and 15 assists. He's also +17.
Lost in those two losses in their last ten games are two squandered leads. The Bruins lost a lead in the third period to the Montreal Canadiens, and completely collapsed in the third period against the Washington Capitals.
What to Expect
The Bruins are mean. As Toronto Maple Leafs vlogger Steve Dangle perfectly puts it, this team can beat you in many different ways. Not only on the physical side of things, but once they brandish their scorers, watch out. This team may be one of the most balanced teams in the league, with a solid young goaltender defending the net.
The Flyers have a fiery scoring attack, including several hot commodities like Jakub Voracek and Wayne Simmonds. Both have been spectacular for the club at even strength, and on the power play. If the Bruins jump out to a lead, the team can take note in the fact that no lead is safe. If any team for the Flyers to know this against, it should be Boston.
The Masked Men
The Flyers could throw either goaltender at the Bruins today. Ilya Bryzgalov has received the bulk of the starts, and surrendered three goals on 11 shots to the Penguins on Thursday before being replaced by Brian Boucher. Bryzgalov's save percentage has dipped below .900 for the first time this season. Rumors of his tiredness abound.
Boucher picked up the loss by allowing Chris Kunitz's winning goal in the third period, but stopped the other five shots that came his way in the final frame. The 36-year-old Rhode Island native received one prior start this season against the Montreal Canadiens back on February 16.
Since Anton Khudobin picked up the start against the Leafs, expect Tuukka Rask to re-take the net for the Bruins. Rask (11-2-3, .923 sv%, 2.09 GAA) has been simply marvelous for the Bruins, forcing out Stanley Cup hero Tim Thomas in his vacation season. This is Rask's first start against the Flyers since losing in game seven in 2010.
Keys to the Game
1. Learn from Thursday. Don't forget what happened. The team flat out forgot to play the second period and it cost them. They must learn from Thursday's debacle, but they cannot let it bury them. If they do, this could be disastrous. The first period of Thursday's debacle can be taken as a positive.
2. Play physical. The Bruins have bite. Bite back. However, don't take the stupid penalties. Sadly, that has been a problem, as the Flyers are the most penalized team in the entire league. Thankfully, if the Flyers are penalized, the Bruins have the 23rd ranked power play (15.2%) with only 10 power play goals in 66 chances.
3. Jakub Voracek. Now 18 points (9/9) in his last nine games, he is officially one of the hottest players in the league. Known more as a set-up guy before coming to Philadelphia, he has rounded out his game completely to be a force at both ends of the rink. He will be needed to provide more offense today.
"We've got to win in Boston to right the wrong. That's what we aim to do." - Peter Laviolette at practice yesterday.