The Flyers (39-28-9) will try to snap a three-game losing streak when they take on the Boston Bruins (52-18-7) for the final time this season Saturday afternoon.
Puck drop is set for 1 p.m. at TD Garden in Boston. The game will be televised on Comcast SportsNet.
Here are five things you need to know:
1. Where’s the offense?
Seventy-six. That’s how many shots the Flyers have fired on opposing goalies since they last scored a goal. One-hundred thirty minutes and 25 seconds. That’s how much game-time has gone by since Vinny Lecavalier last got the Flyers on the board. Not good.
The dry spell couldn’t have come at a worse time. There are just six games remaining this season for the Flyers, who have gone 1-3-2 since a five-game winning streak and are in danger of falling out of an automatic playoff spot in the Metropolitan Division.
Why is that bad? If the Flyers continue to slide they may find themselves in a wild-card position. That would mean a first-round playoff matchup against either Boston or the Pittsburgh Penguins. That’s not to say the New York Rangers or Columbus Blue Jackets would be an easy first-round matchup, but taking on either Boston or Pittsburgh -- the two best clubs in the East -- early in the playoffs is probably something the Flyers would like to avoid.
With that said, the Flyers need just six points to clinch a playoff berth. They are four points behind the Rangers for second place in the Metro with two games in hand and are two points ahead of the Jackets for third with one game in hand. Every point is precious at this stage of the season, so the Flyers need to figure out how to get their offense going.
Head coach Craig Berube said Friday he talked to his players about harder work and better shot selection. He also said the Flyers’ execution has been poor lately. That’s been especially true on the power play. The Flyers are 0 for 11 on the man advantage over the last three games and have given up numerous shorthanded chances. That’s something that must be corrected.
2. Beasts of the East
The Bruins basically have the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference locked up, but they still have a lot left to play for.
Boston enters Saturday tied with the St. Louis Blues for the most points in the NHL (111). The Blues currently have the edge for the Presidents’ Trophy because they have a game in hand on the Bruins, but you can bet the battle for the best record in the league is a fight the B’s want to win.
The Bruins are also looking to bounce back from two consecutive losses. They haven’t dropped three in a row at any point this season and if they can keep it from happening Saturday, they’ll secure home ice in the playoffs through at least the conference finals.
With a win in regulation over the Flyers or a regulation loss by Pittsburgh to the Minnesota Wild, the Bruins will secure the top spot in the East. They could also clinch by earning one point coupled with a Penguins loss of any kind.
The Flyers will be looking to play spoiler while also trying to avoid a season sweep at the hands of the Bruins. The last time the Flyers went winless in a season against Boston was in 1997-98, when they went 0-3 with a tie.
3. Forget about Columbus
Thursday could have been a statement game against a new division rival. Instead, the Flyers were left looking for answers after a disappointing 2-0 loss to the Jackets.
“I think that was deflating, obviously,” Wayne Simmonds said (see story). “I think we’ve played the last two games pretty tight checking. We stopped playing in the third, and that’s the bad thing. I thought we had a great first and second. Then for reasons unknown, we just stopped playing.”
It’s crucial for the Flyers to put the loss to Columbus in their rear-view mirror. If they come out flat against Boston they’ll get buried. A quick start and a first-period goal or two would do wonders for the Flyers’ confidence. We’ll see how they respond.
Steve Downie is listed as a game-time decision against the Bruins. He’s missed the Flyers’ last six games with an upper-body injury.
The Bruins will continue to be without defensemen Adam McQuaid and Dennis Seidenberg. McQuaid is on injured reserve with a quad injury and Seidenberg is out for the rest of the season after undergoing knee surgery.
Jarome Iginla returned to Boston’s lineup on Thursday after missing a game with a lower-body injury, while Carl Soderberg left the team to be with his wife who was having a baby.
5. This and that
• Ray Emery will start in net for the Flyers. In 10 games (nine starts) in his career against Boston, Emery is 5-3-1 with a 2.81 goals-against average, .890 save percentage and one shutout.
• Patrice Bergeron has nine goals over his last nine games for the Bruins and enters Saturday riding a 10-game point streak.
• The Flyers have never been shut out for three straight games in the regular season in their history.
• Boston is currently on a seven-game home points streak (6-0-1), tied with the Dallas Stars for the longest active streak of this kind in the NHL.
• The Flyers haven’t been swept by the Bruins in the regular season since they went 0-3 against them in 1989-90.