The Philadelphia Flyers will be visiting the Boston Bruins on Saturday afternoon for their third and final matchup of the 2016-17 season. In the rivals’ first meeting of the season, the Flyers came away with a 3-2 shootout victory. When the clubs met for the second time, the Bruins were able to capture a decisive 6-3 win behind a five-point performance from Brad Marchand.
The Flyers are coming off a tough 4-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs and need to get a tally in the win column to stay afloat in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Coming into this matchup, the Flyers sit fifth in the wild-card race but are just five points behind the New York Islanders. With only 16 games remaining, three teams to jump and five points to makeup, this game is a must-win for the Flyers.
The Bruins are sitting far more comfortably than the Flyers but still have a lot of work to do to clinch a playoff berth. As of right now, the Bruins are third in the Atlantic Division and are only holding onto the position by one point over the explosive Maple Leafs. This game may not be a must-win for the Bruins, but a loss could move them out of playoff position and put them in a tight spot moving forward.
Philadelphia Flyers at Boston Bruins
TD Garden-1:00 p.m. E.S.T
Broadcast Channels-NHL Network, NESN, SN360, CSN-PH, 98.5 The Sports Hub
2016-17 Season Series: Tied 1-1
Philadelphia Flyers: 31-27-8 – 70 Points
Road Record: 12-17-4
Hot Players: Jakub Voracek, Claude Giroux
Key Injuries: Michael Raffl
Jordan Weal – Claude Giroux – Wayne Simmonds
Brayden Schenn – Valtteri Filppula – Jakub Voracek
Nick Cousins – Sean Couturier – Matt Read
Chris VandeVelde – Pierre-Edouard Bellemare – Travis Konecny
Ivan Provorov – Andrew MacDonald
Brandon Manning – Shayne Gostisbehere
Michael Del Zotto – Radko Gudas
Boston Bruins: 35-26-6 – 76 Points
Home Record: 18-14-0
Hot Players: Brad Marchand, Torey Krug, David Krejci
Key Injuries: Tim Schaller, Ryan Spooner
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Backes
Drew Stafford – David Krejci – David Pastrnak
Frank Vatrano – Austin Czarnik – Jimmy Hayes
Matt Beleskey – Dominic Moore – Riley Nash
Zdeno Chara – Brandon Carlo
Torey Krug – Adam McQuaid
Colin Miller – Kevan Miller
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]1)[/miptheme_dropcap] Dating back to last season, the Bruins have had a tough time recording wins at the TD Garden. Home ice is where a team is supposed to shine and please its fans, but the Bruins had been performing better on the road, which is a rare occurrence in the NHL. However, it appears the B’s have started to turn around their performance at the Garden, where they have notched six wins in their past seven games. Fans will be looking for the Bruins to keep their winning ways at home going in this crucial contest before the team departs for a four-game road trip through Canada.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]2)[/miptheme_dropcap] Familiar names sit atop the stats sheet for the Flyers this season. Leading the way is Jakub Voracek with 54 points, followed by Claude Giroux (47) and Wayne Simmonds (45). Simmonds’ 28 goals this season leads the team by a large margin as he continues to find the back of the net consistently. Although the point totals for these three players are down this year, they are always dangerous, and the Bruins will have to play solid defense to keep them in check. Special attention may be directed at Voracek, as he has registered four points in his last five outings.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]3)[/miptheme_dropcap] Through 67 games this season, Bruins forward Brad Marchand has recorded a career-high in points with 70. His previous best mark was set last season when he tallied 60 points. Marchand’s career year has him sitting fourth in the NHL in points and third in goals with 32. In his last outing against the Flyers, Marchand registered five points and will look to have the same success this time around, but he may draw some extra attention from the Flyers’ blue line as they will try to make his day difficult.
It is crunch time in the NHL for many teams, and the Bruins and Flyers find themselves in one of the tightest playoff races in recent memory. Neither team can afford to leave points on the table as the season is quickly coming to a close.
All season long, the Flyers have had inconsistent play from their goaltenders Steve Mason and Michal Neuvirth. It is assumed Mason will get the start as he looks to improve upon his 2.76 GAA and .906 save percentage this season.
For the Flyers to emerge victorious Saturday afternoon, they need their goaltender to play well. The Bruins’ offense has been red hot, and a weak goal could end up breaking this game wide open. On the Bruins side, they will obviously have to take advantage of the Flyers’ inconsistencies in net and put pressure on their defense early.
Anthony Pagliarulo is a Boston Bruins contributor for The Hockey Writers. He is a Massachusetts native and a Worcester State University alumni. You can follow Anthony on Twitter @APags87.