Bruins Continue to Chase Playoffs Against Equally Desperate Flames

Bruins Continue to Chase Playoffs Against Equally Desperate Flames The Bruins and Flames will clash at the TD Garden on Saturday in another must-win for the Black and Gold as they try to secure a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

The problem for the Bruins on this particular day is that while they certainly can’t afford any mental or strategic breakdowns like they had in their 5-3 loss to the Lightning on Thursday, the Flames are even more desperate. They face an even slimmer margin for error as they try to chase down the Red Wings for the final spot in the Western Conference.

With that in mind, it will be a do-or-die type of game for both squads.

WHEN AND WHERE

March 27, 1 p.m. (NESN)
TD Garden, Boston, Mass.

RECORDS

Bruins (32-28-12, 78 points, fourth place in Northeast Division, eighth place in Eastern Conference)
Flames (37-28-9, 83 points, third place in Northwest Division, ninth place in Western Conference)

HEAD TO HEAD

This is the only meeting of the season between the two teams. The Flames beat the Bruins 3-2 in their last encounter on Oct. 30, 2008.

SKINNY

The Bruins and Flames have both suffered from inconsistency and have failed to find a way to follow up one 60-minute effort with another. As a result, they are both fighting for their playoff lives. The Flames are trailing the Red Wings by six points for the eighth spot in the Western Conference, and the Bruins are clinging onto the eight slot in the Eastern Conference, leading the Thrashers by two points. 

"We’re in the same boat as Calgary because we’re both trying to get in the playoffs or stay in and need these two points," said Bruins and former Flames forward Steve Begin. "It’s going to be a hard game again, and they will all be hard from now on. We need to bring our best game and intense game."

PROJECTED LINEUPS

Bruins
Forwards
Marco Sturm–Patrice Bergeron–Mark Recchi
Blake Wheeler–David Krejci–Michael Ryder
Milan Lucic–Vladimir Sobotka/Trent Whitfield–Miroslav Satan
Daniel Paille–Steve Begin–Shawn Thornton

Defensemen
Zdeno Chara–Dennis Seidenberg
Mark Stuart–Dennis Wideman
Matt Hunwick/Johnny Boychuk–Andrew Ference

Goaltenders
Tuukka Rask
Tim Thomas

Flames
Forwards
Niklas Hagman–Matt Stajan–Jarome Ignila
Rene Bourque–Craig Conroy–Ales Kotalik
Nigel Dawes–Mikael Backlund–David Moss
Brett Sutter–Eric Nystrom–Jamal Mayers

Defensemen
Robyn Regehr–Ian White
Jay Bouwmeester–Steve Staios
Mark Giordano–Cory Sarich

Goaltenders
Miikka Kiprusoff
Vesa Toskala

GOALTENDER MATCHUP

Bruins
Tuukka Rask
is 18-11-4 with a 2.11 goals against average, a .927 save percentage and four shutouts. Rask had an off night on Thursday, allowing five goals on 18 shots. Heading into NHL action Friday night, he ranked first in GAA and first in save percentage in the NHL.

Tim Thomas is 15-17-8 with a 2.57 GAA and a .914 save percentage. He has four shutouts. Thomas has not started since March 15 in New Jersey, when he was pulled after allowing three first-period goals in a 3-2 loss.

Flames
Miikka Kiprusoff
is 32-24-9 with a 2.22 GAA and a .922 save percentage. He has four shutouts this season. Kiprusoff made 19 saves in a 3-2 loss to the Islanders on Thursday.

Vesa Toskala is 9-12-3 with a 3.50 GAA and a .879 save percentage. He has one shutout. Toskala was pulled from his last start on March 21 after allowing three goals on 12 shots.

STAT SHEET

Bruins
Patrice Bergeron
(16 goals, 31 assists) had an assist on Thursday to tie Zdeno Chara for the team lead in assists. He now leads the team with 47 points.

Marco Sturm
leads the team with 21 goals but hasn’t scored in seven games.

David Krejci had two helpers on Thursday and now has 13 points in the 13 games since the Olympic break. Krejci is second on the team with 44 points.

Mark Recchi scored his 16th goal of the season on Thursday, but more importantly, it was his 561st goal of his career, moving him into sole possession of 22nd all-time in goals scored.

Michael Ryder got his second assist in as many games on Thursday and now has 15 helpers and 31 points this season.

Chara scored his sixth goal on Thursday. He leads the team with 31 assists and leads the defense in points with 37.

Dennis Seidenberg had an assist on Thursday and now has seven points in 11 games with the Bruins since being acquired at the trade deadline. Seidenberg has 28 helpers and 30 points this season.

The Bruins went 0-for-3 on the power play on Thursday and are now 40-for-236 with a 17.0 percent success rate. The Bruins have not scored a power-play goal since the second period of their 2-1 loss at Pittsburgh on March 7.

The Bruins penalty kill had a rare bad night on Thursday, allowing the Lightning to go 2-for-3 on the power play. They have surrendered only 36 goals on 251 power plays faced. Heading into NHL action on Friday night, the Bruins’ penalty kill was ranked third in the NHL with an 85.7 percent success rate.

Flames
Captain Jarome Iginla leads the team in goals with 32 and in assists with 36. He has four points in his last four games but has just one goal in his last eight.

Forward Matt Stajan, who was acquired from the Maple Leafs in the blockbuster deal that sent Dion Phaneuf to Toronto, is second on the team in points with 53 and in assists with 34.

Eric Nystrom (11 goals, eight assists) had a goal and an assist on Thursday and has now scored four goals in his last five games.

BLACK AND BLUE

Bruins
Marc Savard
is out indefinitely with a Grade 2 concussion.

Vladimir Sobotka is probable with a sore neck.

Flames
Chris Higgins
is questionable for Saturday’s game with a foot injury.

Curtis Glencross is questionable for Saturday’s game with a knee injury.

Daymond Langkow is out indefinitely with a neck injury.

THIS DATE IN BRUINS HISTORY

On March 27, 1997, Ray Bourque picks up his 1,000th career NHL assist in the Bruins' 6-3 loss to the Islanders. Bourque becomes the fifth player to get 1,000 assists, and the first to do so after spending his entire career with one team.

OVERHEARD

“We made some mental mistakes but the effort was there. Our confidence hasn’t flown south and we’re just getting ready for [Saturday's] game instead of dwelling on [Thursday's].”
–Bruins forward Shawn Thornton
, on moving on from disappointing losses

PRESS BOX

Bruins
Marc Savard will address the media on Saturday for the first time since suffering a concussion on March 7, and you can catch the presser live on NESN at noon.

Unlike the 2008-09 Habs, who went from first to eighth in the East, former Canadien Steve Begin believes the character of this Bruins team can help it prevail.

The Bruins need to figure out how to win at home, where they’re just 15-15-6.

Flames
Are the Flames done after another blown opportunity on Long Island on Thursday in a 3-2 loss?

The Flames players are still holding out hope for the playoffs.

The pressure is mounting on the Flames.

NHL
Former Bruin Derek Morris is doing just fine in the desert.

Former Bruins head coach Pat Burns is nearing the end of a long battle with cancer.

Puck Daddy has the “death watch” going for teams on the bubble.

OUTLOOK

The Flames and the Bruins both pride themselves on physical games and both teams probably want to get that aspect back in their games. With both teams trying to make the playoffs, there is no better time than now to re-establish physicality, so expect a hard-fought battle on Saturday.

The Bruins will need to rediscover the intensity they showed in last week’s wins over New York and Atlanta. They can’t afford those physical and mental lapses they showed against the Lightning now that they're facing a desperate team that, with a loss, is almost guaranteed to miss the playoffs.

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