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Ice Breakers: Bruins-Flyers, Saturday December 11th

The Bruins (16-8-3) conclude their three-game homestand this evening, hosting the hated Philadelphia Flyers (18-7-5) at TD Garden.

Philly’s been one of the league’s top teams this season, which shouldn’t surprise anyone. They currently sit in second place in the Atlantic Division behind another one of the league’s power teams, the Penguins. The Flyers are have taken points in nine out of their last ten games, going 6-1-3 in that stretch. That one regulation loss? Last Wednesday, at the hands of the Bruins, a 3-0 shutout by Tim Thomas. Philly is fresh off a solid 4-1 win in Toronto Thursday night.

For Boston, they look to remain on a hot streak themselves. The B’s have taken at least one point in every game this month, with a 4-0-1 record in December. In Thursday’s contest, the Bruins took it to the lowly New York Islanders, topping them 5-2.

Plenty to get to before this heavyweight bout tonight, so let’s dive in head-first to some pre-game notes to get you ready…

  • Two trades came from the B’s Thursday night, but neither deal involved Marco Sturm. Instead, Boston pulled off two minor deals with the two Floridian teams. First, they sent Levi Nelson to the Lightning in exchange for 23-year-old Juraj Simek. Simek has 3 goals and 6 assists in 21 games this season with the Norfolk Admirals, Tampa’s AHL affiliate. In the second deal, the B’s gave up Jeff LoVecchio and Jordan Knackstedt to get Sean Zimmerman and a conditional 7th round draft pick from Florida. Both Zimmerman and Simek have reported to Providence.
  • Milan Lucic remains the hottest Bruin of the bunch. The winger scored twice in Thursday’s win over the Isles, pushing his goal total to 15 on the year. He has five lamp-lighters in his last four contests, and is now just two goals short of matching his career-high mark of 17, set two seasons ago. Also on a hot streak for the B’s is Lucic’s centerman David Krejci, who has a pair of goals and seven assists in his last seven games.
  • It’s never a good bet that you’ll see a shorthanded goal in an NHL game, but tonight’s odds are higher than usual. Boston’s Brad Marchand, who scored a shorty on Thursday, is now tied with Philly’s Claude Giroux for the league lead in shorthanded goals. Each player now has three on the season.
  • Tonight’s matchup will feature the top offense against the top defense. No team has scored more goals than the 102 that Philadelphia has put in so far this season, while Boston has let in the fewest goals thus far, at 51.
  • Whether it’s Tim Thomas or Tuukka Rask in goal tonight (my money’s on Thomas, by the way), they’ll be sure to face a hefty number of shots from these Flyers. Philadelphia ranks second in shots per game at 33.2, only behind San Jose’s 34.2.
  • Leading the scoring for the Flyers is center Mike Richards, with 10 goals and 19 assists this year. Following Richards is winger Claude Giroux (14G, 13A), then a three-way tie at 23 points from Jeff Carter, Ville Leino, and Danny Briere. Briere’s 16 goals currently ranks him fifth in the league in that department, and his +16 plus/minus rating also has him ranked fifth there as well.
  • The youngster, Sergei Bobrovsky (14-4-3, 2.29GAA) will likely be your starter this evening for the Flyers, as Brian Boucher (4-3-2, 2.40GAA) saw action in the team’s last game Thursday in Toronto.
  • Lastly, if you’ve got a spare $5,000 to spend, you and 29 of your closest friends could skate on the Garden ice Sunday! The promotion, deemed “Slice the Ice,” includes an hour of open skating at TD Garden, followed by an hour-long meet and greet with some of the Bruins players, and a tour of the team’s locker room. All for just $5,000, what a bargain, right? The proceeds go to the Boston Bruins Foundation. If interested, there is more info at www.bostonbruins.com.

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