Jakub Voracek always has a grasp of reality and is always honest about it.
"The season is on the line," he said Saturday night.
It sure looks and feels like it. The Flyers are staring down a make-or-break week, their best opportunity toward salvaging the 2020-21 season that has fallen considerably short of expectations.
The stretch of five games in seven days starts Monday when the Flyers (17-14-5) visit the Bruins (19-10-5), the team they're chasing in the playoff race.
Let's get into the essentials for the game:
- When: 7 p.m. ET with The Warm Up at 6 p.m. ET and Flyers Pregame Live at 6:15 p.m. ET
- Where: TD Garden
- Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
- Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app
• Boston holds the fourth and final playoff spot in the East Division. The Bruins are four points ahead of the Flyers and have two games in hand. This week, the two clubs hold their final three meetings with each other.
"The team we're trying to catch, we play them three times coming up here and those are big games for us," Claude Giroux said Saturday night after the Flyers' 3-2 shootout loss to the Islanders. "Those are the games we need to win."
Those games happen to come the week before the April 12 trade deadline. The results will have a large say in how Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher treats the trading period.
Here are the Flyers' final five games leading up to the deadline:
Monday — at Bruins, 7 p.m. ET, NBCSP
Tuesday — vs. Bruins, 7 p.m. ET, NBCSP
Thursday — at Islanders, 7 p.m. ET, NBCSP
Saturday — vs. Bruins, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSP
Sunday — vs. Sabres, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSP
"These are all critical games," Fletcher said Saturday. "We’ve put ourselves in a position where we’re chasing to get back into the playoffs. We have time to get back in, but at risk of understatement, this week is a massive week for us, in particular the next four days. We’ll see. The trade market is still fairly undefined at this point, there are a lot of teams that are either just in or just out and they’re waiting to see how the next few games go before they settle on a path for the next week. We’re still looking to improve our team if we can, we’re having conversations every day. We’ll see not only how the market shapes, but how we play.”
• In 2020-21, the Bruins have had their way with the Flyers, who are 0-3-2 against Boston.
It's fair to say the matchup has not been as lopsided as the results may indicate.
The most recent meeting came in the February NHL Outdoors at Lake Tahoe game in which the Bruins rolled the Flyers, 7-3. The Flyers were without Giroux, Voracek, Travis Konecny, Oskar Lindblom, Scott Laughton and Justin Braun, all of whom were on the NHL's COVID protocol list.
In three of the previous four losses to Boston, the Flyers held a third-period lead. The Bruins have dominated when it has come down to winning time.
"We know that they're the team that's ahead of us in the standings, but we'll prepare, we'll do the things that we usually do to prepare for a hockey game," Carter Hart said Saturday night. "One game at a time. We've got Monday night here in Boston at 7 o'clock — just got to be ready for that."
• Brian Elliott starts in net for the Flyers, while Hart will play Tuesday.
The Bruins are without goalies Tuukka Rask (upper-body injury) and Jaroslav Halak (positive coronavirus test). Daniel Vladar, a 23-year-old rookie, will make his fourth career start.
James van Riemsdyk-Sean Couturier-Joel Farabee
Jakub Voracek-Claude Giroux-Travis Konecny
Scott Laughton-Kevin Hayes-Nolan Patrick
Michael Raffl-Tanner Laczynski-Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Ivan Provorov-Justin Braun
Travis Sanheim-Philippe Myers
Samuel Morin-Shayne Gostisbehere
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