Are Flyers falling back into old tendencies?
The Flyers (25-21-6) will try to avoid a fourth consecutive loss when they take on the Boston Bruins (31-15-3) for the first time this season on Saturday afternoon.
Puck drop is set for 1 p.m. (CSN) at Wells Fargo Center.
Here’s what you need to know for the contest:
1. Been awhile
This is the first meeting between these two clubs since Steve Mason made 39 saves to guide the Flyers to a 5-2 victory over Boston on April 23, 2013 last season.
The home team has won each of the last four games between these teams but the Bruins have had plenty of success in South Philadelphia in recent years. Although the Flyers won both contests against Boston at home in 2013, the B’s went 9-0-1 over their previous 10 trips to Wells Fargo Center.
The Bruins are a strong defensive team and have a balanced offensive corps. The Flyers will need to put together a full 60-minute effort if they want to avoid matching their longest skid of the season.
“[We've] got to play like a team tomorrow,” Flyers coach Craig Berube said Friday (see story). “We’re playing a very good team. It’s a great challenge for our team. I am looking forward to it.”
The Flyers have given up 31 goals during their current 2-4-2 stretch. Things won’t get any easier for the orange and black after Saturday’s meeting with Boston as they will face Detroit on Tuesday before heading out West for matchups with Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Jose.
2. Break it out
If you look at the scoresheets over the past few weeks, you would assume goaltending has been an issue for the Flyers.
But statistics can be deceiving. Sure, Steve Mason and Ray Emery haven’t been particularly sharp over the past month but the Flyers’ defensive corps hasn’t done much to help their netminders either.
Turnovers, poor positioning and miscommunications have all been problems for the Flyers in their own zone as of late. Perhaps the most glaring issue has been breakouts.
“When you are not breaking out of your zone cleanly and having trouble like we are, you spend more time in your zone,” Mason said Friday (see story). “When that happens, it tires out everybody quicker. Guys start running around and they are out of position. The opposition creates chances and you’re behind the 8-ball even more.”
Berube wants his team to make better decisions when breaking out of its zone. The Bruins are a very good forechecking team. If the Flyers don’t keep their heads up and make quick decisions, Boston will make them pay.
3. Managing Marchand
Brad Marchand does a lot of things well for the Bruins. He can kill penalties, contribute offensively and, most importantly perhaps, get under the skin of opponents with his gritty play.
But lately, Marchand has been an offensive dynamo. The Bruins’ forward has scored multiple goals in back-to-back games for the first time in his NHL career and has six markers over his last four contests overall.
Marchand has been playing with a ton of confidence. The bounces are going his way and he’s at his best when teams are gunning for him. The Flyers will need to stay disciplined when dealing with Marchand and not fall into his trap. If they don't, it will be a long and frustrating day.
Zac Rinaldo, who is recovering from a high left ankle sprain, skated on Friday at the Flyers’ optional practice. He remains on injured reserve but said he felt good after the session.
For the Bruins, Dougie Hamilton (concussion) and Chris Kelly (broken right fibula) are expected to travel with the team during its two-game trip that ends Monday. Adam McQuaid (leg), however, will likely miss Saturday’s tilt.
Former Flyer Dennis Seidenberg had right knee surgery last month and will miss the remainder of the season.
5. This and that
• The Flyers have yielded 16 goals while dropping three of their last four home games. During their 10-game home winning streak earlier this season, they allowed just 17 tallies.
• Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask is 1-5-0 with a 2.92 goals-against average in his last seven starts against the Flyers, including postseason play.
• Claude Giroux has seven multi-point games over his last 11 games and has 17 points during that stretch.
• Patrice Bergeron has two goals and five assists during his current four-game point streak for Boston.
• Matt Read has three goals and an assist in his last four games against the Bruins.