Flyers-Bruins: Game 68 Preview

The Philadelphia Flyers' stock is falling as they've lost four straight. They'll try to stop their bear market freefall tonight in Boston against the Bruins.

By Dan Heaning, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

As the games' significance grow larger, the Philadelphia Flyers have hit a slump at a very inopportune time and are in desperate need of a victory after losing four straight games. They'll try to get back on the winning track as they face the Boston Bruins at the TD Bank Garden tonight at 7.

Despite the recent string of losses, the Flyers are still in the sitting in a playoff spot as they are third in the division. However, the New Jersey Devils have crept to within three points of Philadelphia. A Devils win over the Winnipeg Jets tonight coupled with a Flyers loss would put Philadelphia dangerously close to falling into a wild card spot.

Boston, on the other hand, is sitting comfortably in second place in the Atlantic division. With 90 points, the Bruins are six points behind Tampa Bay for the top spot with three games in hand. Meanwhile, they are five points ahead of the third-place Toronto Maple Leafs. Needless to say, the Bruins aren't going to be falling out of the top three in their division.

However, a recent string of injuries to Patrice Bergeron and Charlie McAvoy has left Boston without their top center and, arguably, their best defenseman. Philadelphia will need to take advantage of those two key players' absences but after playing the previous night against Pittsburgh and traveling to Boston, the Flyers may not have the legs to do so.

Team Leaders

Philadelphia Flyers GP G A P Boston Bruins GP G A P
Claude Giroux 67 23 56 79 Brad Marchand 51 28 38 66
Jake Voracek 67 15 57 72 David Pastrnak 64 23 38 61
Sean Couturier  67 29 34 63 Patrice Bergeron 55 27 27 54
Shayne Gostisbehere 63 10 40 50 Torey Krug 60 13 34 47
Wayne Simmonds 60 20 17 37 Danton Heinen 59 12 27 39


Player to Watch
19 Nolan Patrick 61 Rick Nash
Last 5 Games: 1 G, 2 A, 3 P, 0 Last 5 Games: 2 G, 1 A, 3 P, -2
With Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek cooling down slightly and players like Sean Couturier and Shayne Gostisbehere in minor slumps, Philadelphia needs other players to get on the scoresheet. Look for Nolan Patrick to provide some of that once more as the rookie has seven points in his last ten games. Patrick has gone to the net to score goals, made great passes to set up teammates during this stretch which is easily the best the number two overall pick has looked this season. If the Flyers are to come away from Boston with a victory, Patrick will need to continue his strong play.
While there are two guys on Boston named Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak that the Flyers should absolutely be on the lookout for, Rick Nash has been a Flyers killer this season and this reeks of a game that could get the Bruins' big name acquisition going. Since arriving in Boston, Nash hasn't exactly set the world on fire with three points in five games including three scoreless outings. However, while as a Ranger, Nash torched the Flyers for three goals in two games most of which came in a 5-1 Rangers win over Philadelphia in Madison Square Garden. With all hands on deck focusing on ensuring Marchand and Pastrnak don't light up the scoreboard, Nash could have himself another multiple-goal game against the Flyers.
Goalie Matchup
49 Alex Lyon 40 Tuukka Rask
2-1, 2.88 GAA, .903 SV% 26-11-4, 2.27 GAA, .919 SV%

Head coach Dave Hakstol said that Alex Lyon would get some game action in this back-to-back situation so expect the Yale alum to get the start near his old stomping grounds. Lyon will need to be on top of his game with the likes of Marchand and Pastrnak staring him down. Fortunately, Lyon has looked good in his last 100 minutes or so of hockey. He stopped 50 of 53 shots in five periods and a three-on-three overtime against the Rangers and Canadiens. However, it's been two weeks since Lyon played in a game and so rust may affect the young goaltender which could be problematic for the slumping Flyers.

The last time the Flyers saw Tuukka Rask, they didn't see the back of the net. Rask stopped all 28 shots in a 3-0 Bruins victory. As a whole, Rask is having a solid season maybe not a Vezina Trophy-winning type of season, but a pretty good campaign nonetheless. Among goalies with 1,700 minutes played, Rask is in the top ten in five-on-five save percentage and high-danger save percentage. The Bruins haven't asked Rask to steal them many games this season with the season players like Marchand, Pastrnak and Bergeron are having, but the Flyers know too well that Rask is fully capable of doing so if the need be.

Flyers Projected Lineup

Injuries: Brian Elliott is recovering from core muscle surgery and will be out for five-to-six weeks. Michal Neuvirth is out four-to-six weeks with a lower-body injury.

Scratches: Dale Weise, Taylor Leier, Johnny Oduya

Left Wing Center Right Wing
28 Claude Giroux 14 Sean Couturier 11 Travis Konecny
54 Oskar Lindblom 19 Nolan Patrick 93 Jake Voracek
40 Jordan Weal  51 Valtteri Filppula 17 Wayne Simmonds
15 Jori Lehtera 21 Scott Laughton 12 Michael Raffl
9 Ivan Provorov 53 Shayne Gostisbehere  
8 Robert Hagg 47 Andrew MacDonald  
23 Brandon Manning 3 Radko Gudas  
34 Petr Mrazek    

Lineup Notes: 

Bruins Projected Lineup

Injuries: Patrice Bergeron is out with a right foot fracture but is expected to return this month. Charlie McAvoy is out for four weeks after spraining the MCL in his left knee. David Backes has been suspended for three games and will return next Tuesday against Carolina. Anders Bjork is recovering from season-ending shoulder surgery.

Left Wing Center Right Wing
63 Brad Marchand 20 Riley Nash 88 David Pastrnak
74 Jake DeBrusk 46 David Krejci 61 Rick Nash
43 Danton Heinen 57 Tommy Wingels 12 Brian Gionta
59 Tim Schaller 52 Sean Kuraly 55 Noel Acciari
33 Zdeno Chara 25 Brandon Carlo  
47 Torey Krug 54 Adam McQuaid  
48 Matt Grzelcyk 86 Kevan Miller  
40 Tuukka Rask    

Game Notes

  • Power Play: Flyers (18th, 5th on road), Bruins (10th, 8th at home)
  • Penalty Kill: Flyers (29th, 25th on road), Bruins (6th, 14th at home)
  • Recent History vs. Bruins
    • Dec. 2, 2017 – Bruins 3, Flyers 0 (at PHI)
    • March 11, 2017 – Bruins 2, Flyers 1 (at BOS)
    • Jan. 14, 2017 – Bruins 6, Senators 3 (at BOS)
  • Milestone Watch
    • Sean Couturier is one goal away from the 100th of his career.
    • Claude Giroux is five points away from tying Eric Lindros for fifth in all-time points in Flyers history.
    • Jake Voracek is two goals away from tying Mike Richards for 25th in franchise goal totals
    • Wayne Simmonds is one point away from tying Jeff Carter for 24th in franchise point totals.

Where to Watch
TV: NBC Sports Philadelphia+
Radio: 93.3 WMMR

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