After surviving in Wednesday night’s 3-2 win over Nashville, the bruised Bruins take their show back on the road Thursday night for a match-up against the Philadelphia Flyers. Philadelphia, who started the season winning three straight, have now dropped three in a row heading into the game with Boston. While the B’s will be looking to build their first winning streak of the year on their second of a back-to-back pair of games, the well rested Flyers are played in only their second game in the last 11 days.
Here now, a closer look at the game, in what will act as their only look at each other before the Winter Classic game is held on New Year’s Day at Fenway.
- Philadelphia and Boston split their four meetings last season, each winning two a piece. Scoring in those four games was dead even at 12 goals each.
- Leading the way for Philly is captain Mike Richards, who has rebounded from offseason surgery on both of his shoulders to become a scoring force for the Flyers, especially on the power play. His 4 power play goals in just 6 games leads the NHL in that category. Also tied with Richards (6 goals, 2 assists) for the team lead in points is center Jeff Carter (4 G, 4 A) and defenseman Matt Carle (1 G, 7 A). Richards and Carle had five-game point streaks snapped in Philadelphia’s last game, a 4-2 loss in Florida last Friday night.
- While Matt Carle has helped light the lamp from the blue line, the most familiar face amongst the defensive corps for Philly is former MVP and Norris Trophy winner Chris Pronger. The 35-year-old Pronger, who was acquired on draft weekend in the offseason from Anaheim, recently signed a whopping 7-year, $34.9 million extension, making him a Flyer into his “mid-life crisis years.” Pronger, who currently boasts a goal and 4 assists through the team’s first 6 games, leads the league in ice time at 28:13 per game.
- In goal for the Flyers is former Ottawa Senators standout Ray Emery. Emery has played in every game thus far for Philadelphia, notching a 3-2-1 record with a 2.79GAA. Backing up Emery is Woonsocket, RI born Brian Boucher. Boucher has yet to see action this season and likely will not be in net tonight, judging by Emery’s recent success vs. Boston. In his last 5 starts against the B’s, Emery is 4-1-0 with a 1.81GAA, including one shutout.
- As for Philly’s special teams, they have absolutely been special so far. The Flyers currently boast a 27.3% power play percentage, good for 6th in the league, while also playing well short-handed, at an 86.7% penalty kill percentage. That mark is good for 5th in the NHL. While their scoring has been good on the power play, oddly enough they have already let up two shorthanded goals in just six games. Compare that to last year, when they set a franchise record by allowing just one shorthanded goal through all of last year. That one shorthanded goal, incidentally, was scored in the very last game of the regular season.
- If Boston is hoping for a win, they would be advised to play strong defense from the very beginning. Philadelphia has scored first in all but one of their games this season.
- Looking at the Bruins, veteran winger Mark Recchi, the NHL’s active leader in games played, points, and assists, needs just one assist to hit the 900 assist mark for his career.
- On the flip side, while Recchi’s numbers keep growing and growing, the Bruins’ roster is spotted with several rookies and minor league journeymen these days, filling in for injured regulars. Brad Marchand, added his first NHL assist in his debut last night, while newly acquired Daniel Paille also notched a helper of his own.
- With this morning’s team skate being optional for the players, it is yet to be determined who we will see in goal Thursday evening. With the team just having played on Wednesday, I would not be surprised to see backup netminder Tuukka Rask between the pipes vs. PHI.
Tags: Boston Bruins, Brad Marchand, Brian Boucher, Chris Pronger, Daniel Paille, Ice Breakers, Jeff Carter, Mark Recchi, Matt Carle, Mike Richards, Philadelphia Flyers, Ray Emery, Tuukka Rask