Flyers-Bruins: What you need to know

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Flyers-Bruins: What you need to know

Flyers at Bruins – 1 p.m., CSN
TD Bank Garden, Boston, Mass.

Records
Flyers: 11-13-1 (Fifth in Atlantic Division, 11th in Eastern Conference)

Bruins: 15-3-3 (Second in Southeast Division, Fourth in Eastern Conference)

Last meeting
The last time these two clubs faced off, the Flyers rallied from a 2-0 deficit to force overtime, but eventually fell to the Bruins, 3-2, in a shootout. Jakub Voracek and Matt Read each scored in regulation for the Flyers and Ilya Bryzgalov made 31 saves. Tyler Seguin and Chris Kelly tallied Boston’s regulation goals and Patrice Bergeron had the game-deciding marker in the shootout.

In the 2011-12 season series, the Flyers went 1-1-2 against the Bruins. They were outscored 16-9 in those four contests. Saturday will mark the first of three meetings between the two teams this year.

Previous games
The Flyers blew a three-goal, first-period lead in Thursday’s deflating 5-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins at Wells Fargo Center. Kimmo Timonen had a goal and two assists, while Voracek continued his stellar play with two tallies of his own. The loss was the Flyers’ second in a row and dropped them to 11th place in the Eastern Conference standings with 23 games remaining.

Seguin registered two goals and an assist to help the Bruins avoid another third-period collapse in Thursday’s 4-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Bergeron had a goal and an assist and David Krejci tallied the Bruins’ other marker. Boston, which had blown leads in its previous two games, has recorded at least three goals in eight of its last nine contests.

Who's hot
No Flyer has been better offensively this season than Voracek. The 23-year-old has posted nine goals and nine assists in his last nine games. In his second season in orange and black, Voracek is on pace to score a career-high 23 goals and 56 points, even in a lockout-shortened campaign. He currently leads the Flyers in tallies (12), is tied with Claude Giroux for the team-lead in assists (17) and his first on the club with 29 points through 25 games.

For the Bruins, Bergeron and Seguin have provided a ton of offense as of late. Bergeron has two goals and four assists in his past three contests and is leading Boston in scoring so far this season with 21 points in as many games. As for Seguin, the former second-overall pick has potted four goals in his last four games after scoring just three in his previous 17.

Who's not
Danny Briere hasn’t been much of a factor for the Flyers over his past five games. During that span, the veteran forward has just two assists and is a minus-6.

A season after scoring a career-high 20 goals, Boston’s Kelly hasn’t struggled to find the scoresheet so far this year. He has found the back of the net just once this year and ranks towards to the bottom of the Bruins in plus/minus at minus-7.
 
Keep an eye on ...
The Flyers are the most penalized team in the NHL – they’ve been shorthanded 103 times so far this season. However, the orange and black have also been able to draw penalties, as they are second in the league in power-play opportunities with 103.

Over the past nine games, the Flyers’ power play has gone 13 for 39 (33.3 percent), but will face a tough test in the Bruins. Boston has the best penalty-kill percentage in the league at 91.9 percent.

Tuukka Rask has been one of the best netminders in the NHL so far this season. He enters Saturday with an 11-2-3 record, .923 save percentage and 2.09 goals-against average. In three career regular-season starts against the Flyers, Rask has gone 2-0-1 with a .926 save percentage.

Boston won’t be happy to see Simon Gagne back in a Flyers uniform. The last time Gagne faced the Bruins as a member of the orange and black, he scored the game-winning goal in Game 7 of the 2010 Eastern Conference semifinals to help the Flyers advance in the Stanley Cup playoffs after being down 3-0 in the series.

Did you know?
The Flyers are the only team in the NHL that has failed to register a point when tied after two periods (0-5-0) this season.

Also, the Flyers' 13 losses in regulation are more than what the Chicago Blackhawks (one), Anaheim Ducks (three), Bruins (three) and Montreal Canadiens (five) have combined. 
 
Injuries
Flyers: Signs seem to point to Andrej Meszaros making his return from a left shoulder injury against Boston. The defenseman hasn’t played since leaving the Flyers’ 2-1 win over the New York Rangers on Jan. 24.

Tye McGinn (right orbital surgery) and Jody Shelley (left hip surgery) are on injured reserve and remain sidelined.

Bruins: Marc Savard is expected to miss the entire season with post-concussion syndrome.

Jordan Caron (upper-body) is on injured reserve.

Sound off
What do you think the Flyers have to do to turn things around?

Flyers Weekly Observations: More flashes, more frustration

Flyers Weekly Observations: More flashes, more frustration

The Flyers' playoff hopes are all but buried alive, but we still have plenty to discuss after a busy week of hockey.

The Flyers took the ice four times and finished up with yet another inconsistent showing last week.

They pulled off a 4-3 overtime win over the visiting Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday, dropped a disappointing 3-2 decision to the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday, impressed with a strong 3-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Thursday and then were stifled in a frustrating 1-0 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday afternoon.

Let's take deeper dive into the week that was for the Flyers.

• While it was another one of those up-and-down weeks for the Flyers that we've all become used to, Sean Couturier stuck out in a good way this past week. Two plays, in particular, stuck out, and not just because the puck ended up in the back of the net each time. Sunday in overtime against Carolina, Couturier revved up on a quick and powerful solo rush up the ice, broke in on goalie Cam Ward and created a prime scoring opportunity that Brayden Schenn cleaned up for the game-winner. It was something we don't see often enough from Couturier. He has the size with his 6-foot-3, 211-pound frame and can be tough to stop when he gets in gear the way he did in OT on Sunday night. That could be such a weapon for the Flyers if he could do it on a more consistent basis. His goal Thursday in Minnesota was a thing of beauty. He took a slick pass from Schenn, maneuvered the puck through his legs and beat Devan Dubnyk five-hole. Between the pass and the lovely finish, it might have been the prettiest goal the Flyers scored all season. But it was Couturier's skill that finished it off. So he again showed flashes of mixing his size and skill this week to create offense. Queue the broken record, but the Flyers, who average just 2.50 goals per game heading into Sunday night's tilt in Pittsburgh, really need Couturier to do those kinds of things much more consistently.

• Steve Mason was not out of line to question his teammates after Tuesday's disheartening loss in Winnipeg. Heading into that game, the Flyers talked about how, even though their playoff hopes were slim, they still thought they had a real chance to reach the postseason. Entering the third period on Tuesday, the game was tied at 1-1. The Flyers had 20 minutes to vanquish a Jets team that was missing five regular defensemen in the lineup. Instead of playing like a team hungry for the playoffs, the Flyers sat back and let the Jets carry play to predictably terrible results for the Flyers. Think about this: the Flyers had just two shots in the period 13:34 into the frame. I know Mason mentioned the eight straight minutes of penalties the Flyers took in the second period, and, while frustrating, that happens sometimes. The two shots through more than half the third period can't happen. Urgency anybody? They did respond nicely Thursday against a good, albeit stumbling, Wild team. That may have been the Flyers' best all-round effort of the year.

 • In response to Tuesday's lackluster effort in Winnipeg, Dave Hakstol again switched up the Flyers' lines ahead of Thursday's game in Minnesota. One of the changes saw rookie forward Travis Konecny slide down to the fourth line next to Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Chris VandeVelde. That's a curious move. Think about this: the Flyers' playoff hopes are virtually toast, right? What does Konecny get out of playing fourth-line minutes now? Shouldn't he be further up the depth chart in an effort to find some chemistry with more skilled linemates heading into next season? I get that he has defensive deficiencies. But he's a rookie and all rookies have those. At the end of the day, the kid is a skilled scorer. And these are important minutes for him to get more and more comfortable in a top-wing role. You've got to take the good with the bad, especially with the Flyers' goal-scoring needs.

• The Flyers' power play continues to be a debacle. After an 0-for-3 showing Saturday in Columbus, the Flyers' power play is 3 for 43 in the month of March. It's not just that the power play is stagnant right now. It's that it's giving the opponent momentum and helping turn games around against the Flyers. It's more deflating than anything else. More often than not, it just seems that opponents have more quality chances while shorthanded than the Flyers have with the man advantage. Gotta give the Flyers' power-play units credit on Saturday, though. They fired 10 power-play shots on goal, but Sergei Bobrovsky had every answer. He was superbly flawless all game long for the Jackets, for that matter.

• Want a telling stat? Try this on for size: heading into Sunday's games, 16 teams have positive goal differentials for the season and 14 teams have negative goal differentials for the season. Those 16 teams with positive goal differentials are in the current playoff picture. The 14 teams with negative goal differentials, well … I'll let you fill in the blank. FYI, the Flyers' goal differential is minus-27.

• Was going over some stats on Sunday morning and, oh, those poor Avalanche fans. Colorado has just been abysmal this year. As of Sunday morning, the last-place Avs are 20 points behind the next team in the standings, Arizona. Twenty! The Avs' goal differential on the season is minus-104. That's an astounding number that's 44 goals behind the next worse number, coincidentally Arizona's. So for you Flyers fans angry at how this season has soured, just remember it's worse somewhere else. Much, much worse. … If that's any consolation.

Coming up this week: Sunday at Pittsburgh (7 p.m./NBCSN), Tuesday vs. Ottawa (7 p.m./TCN), Thursday vs. New York Islanders (7 p.m./CSN), Saturday vs. New Jersey (7 p.m./CSN).

Flyers-Penguins 5 things: Final long road trip of season ends in Pittsburgh

Flyers-Penguins 5 things: Final long road trip of season ends in Pittsburgh

Flyers (34-32-8) at Penguins (46-17-11)
7 p.m. on NBCSN/CSNPhilly.com and NBC Sports App

The Flyers conclude their final four-game road trip of the season on Sunday night in Pittsburgh against a Penguins team with its playoff ticket already punched.

Let's take a closer look game at No. 75 for the Flyers.

1. Power outage
The theme remained the same for the Flyers in their 1-0 loss to Columbus on Saturday: a lifeless power play leads to little offense in a must-win game that killed any realistic, however slim, hope of making a last-second run at the Eastern Conference's second wild-card spot.

After going 0 for 3 against the Blue Jackets, the Flyers' power play is now 3 for 43 in March, 0 for its last 14 and 2 for its last 25. On Sunday night, they face a Penguins penalty kill that is lingering near the bottom 10 of the league at 19th overall with an 80.3 percent kill rate.

"We're getting our chances and it's not going in," Shayne Gostisbehere said Saturday. "It's not like we're not getting shots, so it's a matter of sticking with it and it'll come."

In their 4-0 shutout win over the Penguins on March 15, the Flyers were 1 for 4 on the man advantage and it was the last game the team found twine on the power play.

2. Mr. 100
After winning his 100th game as a Flyer on Thursday night Minnesota -- only the third goalie in franchise history to reach 100 wins -- Steve Mason had Saturday afternoon off.

Without context, rolling with Michal Neuvirth on Saturday was a surprising move considering Mason has been the better goalie of the two and the team believed its season was not yet over. But it was the first game of a back-to-back against two of the East's elites.

Neuvirth appeared rusty in the opening period but settled down in Columbus, but Mason is expected back in between the pipes Sunday against the Pens, whom he shut out 11 days ago.

On Sunday, he's expected to make his 50th start of year. Mason will be the first goaltender in Flyers history to start over 50 games in four consecutive seasons. He's appeared in 53 games this season in total heading into Sunday night's tilt.

Mason is 2-3-1 with a 2.62 goals-against average and .910 save percentage in March and owns a 2.73 goals-against average and .906 save percentage overall this season.

3. Playoffs … playoffs?
With Saturday's 1-0 loss, the Flyers' playoff hopes are realistically dead -- not as if they weren't already. The Flyers have eight games left and are eight points out of the playoffs.

One has to believe the Flyers have to win out and acquire all 16 possible points to have any legitimate chance at the playoffs. That's not taking into account help needed elsewhere.

Let's do some math. If the Flyers were to earn all 16 points on the table, they'd finish the year with 92 points. Is that enough to get into the playoffs? Not unless the four teams ahead of them crash and burn. The Flyers are not officially eliminated, but the playoffs are a pipe dream.

4. Keep an eye on …
Flyers: Let's go with Sean Couturier, who has three goals and seven assists in his last 11 games. He had a goal and an assist with a career-high eight shots vs. the Pens 11 days ago.

Penguins: Nick Bonino has seven goals in his last 10 games and nine points in his last 12 games. Bonino has one goal in three games against the Flyers this season.

5. This and that
• The Penguins will wear their gold Stadium Series jerseys against the Flyers on Sunday.

• The Flyers have scored just 20 goals in their last 17 losses.

• This game was originally set for 12:30 p.m. but was rescheduled earlier in the season.

• Pittsburgh is 3-0-2 in five contests since losing to the Flyers on March 15. The Pens are 8-1-3 in their last 12 games and are coming off back-to-back shootout losses.