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Though the Boston Bruins and the Philadelphia Flyers haven't met this season, the teams will become familiar with one another rather quickly.
The Eastern Conference contenders face off twice in the next four days, starting Wednesday night at the Wachovia Center.
Boston and Philadelphia, which will play again at TD Banknorth Garden on Saturday afternoon, have identical 6-4-2 overall records against each other since 2005-06, but the Bruins are 4-1-1 mark in their last six visits to Philadelphia.
This will be their first meeting since March 15, when the Bruins won 3-2 at home. Boston took three of four games in a feisty season series in which the teams totaled 156 penalty minutes. This will also be Bruins center Patrice Bergeron' first time facing the Flyers since Oct. 27, 2007, when a vicious hit by Philadelphia's Randy Jones left him with a season-ending concussion.
Similar play could be in store in 2008-09, as Philadelphia (26-14-9) ranks among the league leaders with 938 penalty minutes.
"You take what you got from them last year and you expect that," defenseman Andrew Ference told the Bruins' official Web site. "They're always hard games, and they're always tough games."
Philadelphia certainly faces a tough test in the Bruins (37-8-6). Boston's 80 points are three ahead of than West-leading San Jose for the league lead, while the Flyers are sixth in the East with 61 points.
"Going into these two games, having some success could really solidify what we think about our team in here, and that's what we want to do," goaltender Martin Biron, who is 8-0-1 with a 2.00 goals-against average in his last 10 starts versus the Bruins, told the Flyers' official Web site.
While the Flyers have only won three of seven overall entering this matchup, the Bruins have collected at least a point in 10 of their last 11 games (8-1-2). Sunday's 3-1 victory at Montreal was Boston's ninth in 10 road games.
"We do a good job of making sure the focus is here (and now) as a group," left wing Milan Lucic said. "We don't lose that focus and we keep pushing (and wanting) more."
Center Marc Savard, leading Boston with 41 assists and 61 points, has six goals and three assists during a season-high eight-game point streak, while defenseman Dennis Wideman has three goals and three assists in a six-game run of his own.
Philadelphia captain Mike Richards, meanwhile, had his four-game point streak snapped Saturday night, when the Flyers endured their second shutout loss of the season, 4-0 at St. Louis. Philadelphia failed to score despite 11 power-play opportunities.
"You get those opportunities early and you want to capitalize and we didn't put the puck in the net and the worst case scenario is they come out and score right after that," Flyers coach John Stevens said.
Boston All-Star goalie Tim Thomas is 6-1-2 with a 2.07 GAA in his last nine games, and is 4-1-1 in six career starts versus Philadelphia. Provided he gets the start, he'll look to contain Richards, who has five goals and three assists in his last six matchups against the Bruins.
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