Winter Classic preview pits Bruins versus Flyers
FLYERS (14-15-1) at BRUINS (16-9-6)
Philadelphia 2-8-0; Boston 7-1-2
This is the second of four meetings between the clubs this season. Philadelphia won in a shootout, 4-3, on Oct. 22 at Wachovia Center despite 36 saves from Boston rookie goalie Tuukka Rask.
With the rink-build for the 2010 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic ongoing at Fenway Park, just a short drive away, the two teams that will play on New Year's Day will give us all a preview of what's in store for the big game. Select members of the Bruins and Flyers got a sneak peak of the rink-build on Sunday, but today they are back to business and there's no Green Monster to speak of at TD Garden.
The Winter Classic is something we all look forward to, but right now the Flyers just want to get one win. They are 1-4 since Peter Laviolette took over for John Stevens and they have won just twice in their last 12 games. After breaking out for six goals in a win over the Islanders last Tuesday, the Flyers' sticks have gone cold again as they have just one goal in their last six periods.
They were competitive in spurts during a 4-1 loss in New Jersey on Saturday, but those spurts did not happen in the first period when they gave up three goals. They made the same mental errors that cost Stevens his job, including unnecessary penalties. Laviolette was clearly frustrated with his players following that game in Newark. He said they had zero jump and also questioned their conditioning. He was especially upset at how they struggled in puck battles all night long.
"If you continue to beat yourself down, you only drive yourself further into a hole," defenseman Chris Pronger
told reporters after the loss to the Devils. "We've got to pick one another up in here. We've got to start acting as team. At the end of the day, we have to play better. It's not good enough to keep it close. This is no fun."
They have righted the ship, having gone 8-1-2 over their last 11 games since a three-game losing streak. The Bruins lost in overtime on Long Island on Saturday, but even then coach Claude Julien felt they played a strong game and probably deserved a better fate had it not been for Islanders goalie Dwayne Roloson.
David Krejci has come on and is starting to look 100 percent after offseason surgery. Krejci missed all of training camp, so he was bound to take a while to get going. Krejci's line is playing well as a whole. The trio, including Michael Ryder and Vladimir Sobotka, contributed two goals and three assists in the OT loss to the Islanders. Ryder was even double shifting in the third period. The Bruins were given the day off Sunday. We won't know until Monday who Julien will start in net, Rask or Tim Thomas. It's brewing into quite the goalie controversy, but the good kind for Julien.
"When you have two guys like that, it's pretty scary," forward Mark Recchi
Who's Hot: Claude Giroux
has scored the Flyers' last three goals. For the Bruins, Krejci is on a three-game point streak with two goals and three assists and Ryder also has points in the last three games with a goal and three assists.
The Flyers are again without a quartet of important players in goalie Ray Emery
(abdominal surgery) and forwards Simon Gagne
(hernia surgery), Darroll Powe
(hand/wrist) and Blair Betts
(dislocated shoulder). The Bruins are still without forward Milan Lucic (high ankle sprain).
The Bruins have killed off 78 of their last 86 shorthanded situations (90.7 percent) after giving up eight goals in their first 26 times shorthanded this season. They are tied with San Jose for first in the NHL in penalty killing with an 85.7-percent success rate. The Flyers have the fifth-best power play at 22.5 percent.
"From our end of it, you know, it's hard to criticize my team when it shows that kind of effort," Julien told the Boston Globe after Saturday's 3-2 overtime loss to the Islanders.