Now that the Flyers have dusted off a few wins against the dregs of the conference, it's time to see how they look against teams that are in or near their weight class. The final two games of this homestand are against current playoff teams, tonight against the Bruins, who have slid all the way to the eighth seed, and Saturday against Chicago, the top seed in the West. Get out your measuring sticks.
The Bruins have won two of their five games since the break, oddly enough against two of the three teams the Flyers have beaten since then (NYI, TOR). They also went into the break on a four-game winning streak, just like the Flyers, so they can't be too thrilled going 2-2-1 especially with that OTL coming against the Leafs. Tonight, it's two teams whose seasons haven't gone as planned so far, both of whom still have the opportunity to make up for that with a strong finish and hot entrance into the playoffs.
That and the fact that these teams hate each other should make for a pretty entertaining game.
The Flyers say that there will be no lineup changes tonight, which is especially fortunate considering the fact that three guys had to leave the last game with lacerations. You've probably heard that Marc Savard will miss this one. Matt Cooke's headshot heard 'round the world may have even ended Savard's season. Whether that hit was actually dirty within the current rule book is a matter of great disagreement (feel free to leave your opinion). There's no word yet as to whether Zdeno Chara will play; the giant is listed as a day-to-day after being affected by a LBI and missing Tuesday's game, but he did participate in the morning skate today.
The Boston goalie situation hasn't been announced yet either. After giving bags of money and an extension to Tim Thomas after the journeyman (and silver medalist!) won the Vezina Trophy, the B's have seen Tuukka Rask start 26 games this season and post a better record, GAA, and save percentage than the Tank. Rask has been on the shelf with a knee injury lately, with Thomas starting the last four games.
The Flyers aren't playing their best hockey right now, but they're still winning games. There's definitely something to be said for that—finding a way to win (even if it's against weak teams). But will that trend continue as the quality of comp picks up, followed by a four-game road trip? Or, can the Flyers just get back to the 60-solid-minutes brand of hockey we've seen them play for a few stretches this season?
Updates: Rask will start, Chara is in the lineup.