Flyers set to battle Bruins for first place in East
BRUINS (20-9-1) at FLYERS (20-7-3)
TV: NHLN-US, NESN (HD), CSN-Philadelphia
Boston 7-2-1; Philadelphia 9-1-0
This game marks the second of four meetings between the teams this season. The Bruins won three of four regular-season games in 2010-11, but the Flyers opened the 2011-12 campaign with a 2-1 victory over their Northeast Division nemesis. After spotting Boston a 1-0 lead on a goal by Brad Marchand
, Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek scored goals in the final minute of the second period to put Philadelphia on top. Ilya Bryzgalov made 22 saves to earn his first victory as a Flyer.
First place in the Eastern Conference is at stake when the Bruins and Flyers renew acquaintances at Wells Fargo Center. Since launching a 10-game winning streak on Nov. 1 with a 5-3 victory over Ottawa, the Bruins have gone 17-2-1. The surging Flyers, meanwhile, earned their seventh straight win on Thursday with a 4-3 victory in Montreal to move past Boston and into first place in the conference for the time being. The seven-game winning streak is the longest for the Flyers since an eight-game streak from Jan. 6-19, 2002. The Bruins are 9-3-0 on the road and the Flyers 8-4-2 on home ice.
The Bruins continued their winning ways on Wednesday as goalie Tim Thomas
made 47 saves and Daniel Paille
scored a pair of goals in a 5-2 victory over the Senators. Rich Peverley
had a goal and an assist and Chris Kelly
and Patrice Bergeron
also scored. While the team has been without defenseman Zdeno Chara
(knee) two straight games, the Bruins captain is skating again. Chara said a decision on whether or not he'll play against the Flyers will be made prior to faceoff.
"It felt pretty good. I've had no setbacks," Chara told the media on Friday. "[The decision to play] is something we're going to make [Saturday]."
After hearing that leading scorer Claude Giroux would be sidelined indefinitely with a concussion on Monday, the news got even worse on Thursday when general manager Paul Holmgren informed the media that captain Chris Pronger would be lost for the remainder of the season with a concussion.
"After consultation with respected concussion specialists Dr. Joseph Maroon and Dr. Micky Collins [in Pittsburgh on Wednesday], it is the opinion of both doctors that Chris is suffering from severe post-concussion syndrome," Holmgren said. "It is the recommendation of doctors Maroon and Collins that Chris not return for the remainder of the 2011-12 season or playoffs. Chris will continue to receive treatment and therapy with the hope that he can get better."
Flyers defenseman Matt Carle, who leads the team in ice time (22:34) per game, extended his point-scoring streak to four games (1 goal, 6 assists) on Thursday when he dished 3 assists in a victory over the Canadiens.
The Flyers are without forwards Giroux (concussion) and Brayden Schenn (concussion), and defensemen Pronger (concussion), Erik Gustafsson (left wrist surgery) and Andreas Lilja (high ankle sprain). … Forward Gregory Campbell
(left foot) and Chara (left knee injury) are listed as day-to-day for the Bruins.
Thomas and Bruins backup Tuukka Rask
each recorded season-high save totals in their most recent starts -- Rask had 41 saves on Tuesday in a 3-0 win over the Los Angeles Kings and Thomas made 47 stops Wednesday against the Senators. Both goalies turned back 20 or more shots in the third period -- Rask 20 and Thomas 22.
Barring injury, Flyers wing Jaromir Jagr will play in his 1,300th NHL game on Saturday and 27th with the Flyers. Jagr has 10 goals, 26 points and a plus-8 rating in 2011-12. … The Bruins are 18-0-0 when totaling at least three goals in a game, including a 3-2 shootout win Oct. 15.