Bruins-Flyers preview: Two hot teams do battle

Bruins-Flyers preview: Two hot teams do battle
March 30, 2014, 10:30 am
Share This Post

PLAYER NEEDING HIS TIRES PUMPED: Reilly Smith has just a goal and three points along with 27 shots on net in 16 games during the month of March, and could really use a hot streak at the tail end of the season headed into the playoffs. Claude Julien didn’t wholly dismiss the notion of taking a look at Loui Eriksson with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand in these last eight regular season games just in case Smith doesn’t pull out of the doldrums he’s sunken down into. Smith was also pulled off the B’s second power play unit for half of Saturday’s win over the Capitals.
DRESSING ROOM MANTRA HEADED INTO THE GAME: “We’ve got an opportunity to do more than [win the division], so we’re going to keep playing and the main thing is keeping our game at the level we want it at.” –Claude Julien on the Bruins’ mantra after becoming the first NHL team to wrap up a division title this season.
KEY MATCHUP: Claude Giroux is among the hottest players in the NHL with 21 points (5 goals, 16 assists) this month for a Flyers team that’s trying to climb as high as No. 2 seed in the Metro Division. It’ll be another challenge for Zdeno Chara and Dougie Hamilton as the top shutdown pair against a Flyers team that torched the Chara/Dougie pairing at the end of last year’s rookie campaign for Hamilton. It was one of the final nails in the coffin for Hamilton being out of the lineup to start last year’s playoffs, and the 20-year-old is looking for a different outcome this season.
STAT TO WATCH: 13 – That's the number of goals for Jarome Iginla in 16 games during a torrid month of March with one more game to go on Sunday against the Flyers.

INJURIES: Flyers right wing Steve Downie is questionable with an upper-body injury, but otherwise Philly is relatively healthy.

Adam McQuaid (strained quad) continues to be out of the lineup after being shut down at the end of February, but has been getting ramped up off the ice for one last shot at a return. Dennis Seidenberg is out for the season with a torn right ACL/MCL, but the Bruins haven’t ruled him out from a possible return late in the playoffs.  
GOALTENDING MATCH-UP: Tuukka Rask should get the start against the Flyers on Sunday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center after Chad Johnson notched another win on his belt against the Capitals on Saturday. Tuukka Rask is wrapping up a Vezina Trophy-worthy season with a 33-14-5 record to go along with a 2.01 goals against average and .931 save percentage. For Rask it’s all about getting his work in and getting another ‘W’ for the Black and Gold as he prepares for the playoffs.

Steve Mason has been excellent for the Flyers with a 31-17-6 record along with a 2.53 goals against average and a .916 save percentage in his first season in Philly, but the Bruins chased him from the game the last time they traveled to Philly two months ago en route to a six goal offensive explosion. That was rock bottom for the Flyers, who have rebounded nicely to put themselves in playoff position by winning six of their last eight games.