Bruins look to snap struggles against surging Flyers
FLYERS (41-22-7) at BRUINS (40-27-3)
TV: NHLN-US (HD), CSN-PH, NESN (HD)
Philadelphia 8-2-0; Boston 3-7-0
This is the fourth and final regular-season meeting between the teams. The Bruins have taken two of the three previous meetings, most recently a 6-5 shootout win in Philadelphia on Jan. 22. The last time they played in Boston was opening night, when Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 22 of 23 shots in a 2-1 Flyers win that ruined the Bruins' Stanley Cup banner-raising ceremony.
Can the skidding Bruins stop their free fall? Can Bryzgalov continue his wall-like recent play?
The Flyers enter the weekend six points behind the Eastern Conference-leading Rangers with just 12 games to play, but they haven't given up on their chase for the top spot in the conference.
"Our main goal is always to finish first," Claude Giroux said. "But at the same time, our main focus is ourselves. We can't really control what the Rangers and Pittsburgh do. I think it's important that we stay focused on what we have to do and don't worry about the other teams."
If all the pucks bounce right for the Flyers, they could reach 93 points by the time the weekend is over, leapfrog the Penguins for fourth place in the conference and pull within two points of the Rangers.
However, coach Peter Laviolette isn't worried about what other teams do -- just his own.
"I'm not concerned about the New York Rangers, the Penguins or the Ottawa Senators," he told the Philadelphia Daily News. "I can't control the Rangers, whether they finish with 97 points or 118 points. It's out of my control. I'm just concerned about the points at stake. … Three weeks from now, someone will tell us where we're going (for the playoffs) or who we're going to visit."
Bruins: Rich Peverley
's versatility makes him extremely important to the Bruins, and that importance is evidenced in the team's record during his absence due to a sprained knee -- just 5-9-1 since he last played, Feb. 15.
However, there was good news for the team Friday as Peverley again skated on his own.
"He started skating Wednesday, so anybody who gets on the ice at this point is an encouraging sign," said coach Claude Julien. "I don't know where he is, exactly, in his recovery, because I haven't been told by the trainers that he's close to coming back yet."
Peverley also said he's feeling pretty good about a return prior to the start of the playoffs.
"The first couple of days were kind of just getting back into it, and today was a little bit harder, a little longer," Peverley said. "I felt pretty good on the ice. It's just about taking gradual steps. … I think it would be tough to just go right into the playoffs. I'd like to get in (prior to the end of the regular season). But I'm taking it day by day right now, and we'll see where it goes."
Bryzgalov saw his shutout streak end at 249:43, but he's still won seven straight games. … Bruins forward Tyler Seguin
has just 2 points in his last four games, but that could change when he faces the Flyers -- in six games against them, he has 3 goals and 3 assists.
The Flyers likely will be without defenseman Andrej Meszaros, who has missed the last seven games due to a lower-body injury. Defenseman Pavel Kubina is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. … Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask
(lower body) and forward Nathan Horton
(concussion) are out.
Daylight is not a friend for either team. In 14 games that start earlier than 7 p.m. ET, the Flyers are winless in four straight, are 4-9-1 overall, and have been outscored 57-40. The Bruins have lost five straight pre-7 p.m. starts, are 4-8-2 in 14 overall and have been outscored 40-38.
Teammates were openly pulling for Bryzgalov to get the Flyers' scoreless-minutes record Thursday against the Islanders.
"We couldn't stop thinking on the bench about the shutout streak that Bryz had going on," Scott Hartnell said.
"Any game you get close like that to having a shut out, you want to do it for your goalie," Braydon Coburn, who led the team with four blocked shots, told NHL.com.
Bryzgalov said hearing that kind of support from his teammates meant a lot to him.
"It's nice when team supports you," Bryzgalov said. "They try to help as much as possible. As you can see … they're diving to block the shots, the passes. I think they played unbelievable."
--- With edits from BostonBruins.com