In an old-school Eastern Conference, batten-down-the-hatches showdown, the Bruins and Flyers meet up Monday night in Boston in the precursor to the upcoming Winter Classic at Fenway Park on New Year’s Day.
Though both squads lost on Saturday to teams in the greater New York metropolitan area, the B’s and Broad Street Bullies are teams that appear to be headed in opposite directions.
When and Where
Monday, Dec. 14, 7 p.m. (NESN)
TD Garden, Boston, Mass.
Flyers (14-15-1, 29 points, fifth in Atlantic Division, 13th in Eastern Conference)
Bruins (16-9-6, 38 points, second in Northeast Division, fifth in Eastern Conference)
Head to Head
The Bruins are 0-0-1 against the Flyers so far in 2009-10, having lost 4-3 in a shootout in Philly back on Oct. 22.
Though Matt Hunwick’s goal early in the second period put Boston up 2-1, the Flyers got goals from Darroll Powe and Arron Asham — in the span of 4:30 — to put them back up 3-2. But Bruin Steve Begin equalized three minutes later to tie things at 3.
Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux then scored the only goal in the shootout — beating Tuukka Rask on a slick backhand-to-forehand deke — to give the Flyers the win, snapping what had been a three-game losing streak.
Despite Saturday night’s 3-2 overtime loss on Long Island to the Islanders, the Bruins have been playing well of late, posting an 8-1-2 record in their last 11 tilts. And frankly, they could easily have come up with another "W" on Saturday had it not been for a huge performance from New York goaltender Dwayne Roloson and some sloppy ice in overtime.
Roloson made 30 saves, including 17 in the third period while the Bruins were frantically pushing forward, to keep the Isles in the game.
"I thought [Roloson] was the difference tonight," Bruins coach Claude Julien told The Boston Globe. "From our end of it, you know, it’s hard to criticize my team when it shows that kind of effort."
Furthermore, the game-winning goal came just 24 seconds into the extra period after B’s defenseman Andrew Ference caught an edge in the neutral zone, defensive mate Dennis Wideman was caught out of position and the Isles’ Frans Nielsen took off on the game-deciding breakaway.
"Andy caught an edge … the ice was sticky all night," Wideman told the Globe. "Otherwise, he would have had [Nielsen]. Really, if not for that, it would have been a 2-on-2, but …"
Scott Hartnell–Mike Richards–Claude Giroux
James van Riemsdyk–Jeff Carter–Danny Briere
Ian Laperriere–Mika Pyorala–Arron Asham
Dan Carcillo–Jon Kalinski–Andreas Nodl
Matt Carle–Chris Pronger
Ole-Kristian Tollefsen–Kimmo Timonen
Ryan Parent–Oskars Bartulis
Blake Wheeler–Marc Savard– Byron Bitz
Marco Sturm–Patrice Bergeron–Mark Recchi
Vladimir Sobotka–David Krejci–Michael Ryder
Daniel Paille–Steve Begin–Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara–Derek Morris
Andrew Ference–Dennis Wideman
Mark Stuart–Johnny Boychuk
Brian Boucher is 3-7-0 with a 2.53 GAA and .900 save percentage.
Johan Backlund hasn’t played yet for the Flyers in 2009-10, but he is 6-8-0 with a 2.81 GAA and .903 save percentage this year for the Adirondack Phantoms of the AHL.
Tuukka Rask is 9-2-2 with a 1.97 GAA and .930 save percentage.
Tim Thomas is 7-7-4 with a 2.51 GAA and .910 save percentage.
Mike Richards leads Philadelphia in goals with 13 and is tied with Jeff Carter for the team lead in points with 25.
Defenseman Matt Carle leads the team with a plus-12 rating. Forward Danny Briere holds the squad’s worst mark at minus-8.
Daniel Carcillo, who returns Monday from his four-game suspension, leads all Flyers with 87 penalty minutes.
Center Jeff Carter has scored in just two of his last 14 games.
James van Riemsdyk, after posting 17 points in his first 15 games, has just two points in his last 12 games.
The injured Ray Emery owns the only shutout by a Flyers goaltender this season.
The Flyers' power-play unit has converted 22.5 percent of its chances, fifth best in the NHL. The penalty kill has successfully killed off 78.3 percent of penalties, fifth-worst in the league.
Zdeno Chara leads the team in assists with 17.
Marco Sturm currently leads the B's with a plus-9 rating. Daniel Paille has the worst mark on the team with a minus-4 rating.
Shawn Thornton leads the team with 61 penalty minutes. That's 19 more than Chara, who's second on the team with 42.
The Bruins' power play has converted on 17.9 percent of its opportunities, while the penalty kill has been successful 85.7 percent of the time, tied for the best in the league.
Black and Blue
Braydon Coburn sprained his ankle Saturday against the Devils and is currently listed as day-to-day. He is not expected to play against the Bruins.
Goaltender Ray Emery tore a muscle in his abdominal wall last week and is expected to undergo surgery and miss about six weeks of action.
Left winger Simon Gagne has been out since the end of October and had surgery to repair a sports hernia after struggling with groin problems. He could return as early as Dec. 19.
Center Blair Betts dislocated his right shoulder three weeks ago and is expected to return by the end of December.
Winger Darroll Powe has a strained left shoulder and should be back in the next week or two.
Milan Lucic is recovering from a high ankle sprain and could return near the end of the month.
Byron Bitz missed last Thursday's game due to illness, but returned to the lineup on Saturday. He is expected to play on Monday.
This Date in Bruins History
On Saturday, Dec. 14, 1974, under coach Don Cherry, the Bruins explode for a 12-1 victory at home against the Washington Capitals. The win is their fourth in a row and the B’s go on to win a total of seven straight before losing a week later.
"There's an old saying that you're never as bad as you think you are and you're never as good as you think you are. I don't think we're that bad, but we're getting there if we don't start looking in the mirror."
–Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger on his team’s recent struggles, in which they’ve lost seven of their last eight games
A slow start doomed the Flyers in Saturday’s loss to the Devils.
Goalie Brian Boucher is back on the hot seat.
Some advice for new coach Peter Laviolette.
Tim Thomas is frustrated by his recent play in net.
Johnny Boychuk’s patience is finally paying off.
The Bruins looked flat in their loss to the Isles.
The Flyers and Bruins get a feel for Fenway.
The Avalanche top the Flames to move into first place in the Northwest Division.
Former NHL goalie Martin Gerber suffers a serious neck injury in Russia.
The Flyers got off to a solid start this season but have come back to earth of late, going just 2-8-0 in their last 10 games. Without Emery in net, they’re not the same team. And without the injured Coburn on the blue line, their already thin defensive corps could be even more susceptible to what has lately been a hard-working Bruins’ offense.
The Bruins were stoned by a tough goaltender on Saturday night, but Monday should be ripe for them to break out of a mini-scoring slump. With David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron and Marc Savard, among others, playing the way they have of late, the B’s should be primed to hit the gas and not let off until the final horn.