Flyers-Bruins 5 things: Latest in long line of must-win games

Flyers-Bruins 5 things: Latest in long line of must-win games

Flyers (31-27-8, 70 points) at Bruins (35-26-6, 76 points)
1 p.m. on CSN, and streaming live on the NBC Sports App 

Time is running short on this season for the Flyers, who are in Boston on Saturday afternoon to meet the Bruins in yet another critical game in the wild-card chase.

It's a big one for both clubs as both are fighting for their playoff lives.

Let's take a closer look at Saturday's matinee matchup.

1. Gotta have it
The Flyers will enter Saturday afternoon's contest five points behind the New York Islanders for the final wild-card spot in the East with 15 games to play. Needless to say, destiny is not in the Flyers' hands.

And that's why the Flyers need these two points on Saturday. Think of the consequences if the Flyers fall to the B's. If the Flyers fall in regulation and the Isles beat the Blues in St. Louis on Saturday evening, the Flyers would be seven points back of New York with 14 games to play. And they would need plenty of help along the way as they'd still likely have to jump Tampa, Florida and Toronto.

Now, it's really desperation time.

"Going into Boston, it's going to be huge for us," Shayne Gostisbehere said after Thursday’s loss in Toronto. "It's going to be a playoff-like atmosphere for us. We're going to need two points."

The term "must-win" has been thrown around a lot recently with the Flyers, and rightfully so with time winding down in the season. But if they drop this one, the consequences could be devastating.

If things weren’t tough enough, the Flyers will see a Bruins team hungry to hang on to the third spot in the Atlantic Division and not fall into the wild-card cluster.

2. Momentum kill
The Flyers' power play snapped out of an 0-for-14 funk Thursday with Wayne Simmonds' deflection in the first period against the Leafs. But as one special-teams unit showed a pulse, the other continued to flat-line.

After giving up two power-play tallies to the Sabres on Tuesday, the Flyers allowed two more to the Leafs on Thursday, including an absolute backbreaker by Mitch Marner late in the third period that made the score 3-1 in favor of Toronto.

The power-play goals against the Flyers the last two games have been momentum killers in important moments.

But the Sabres and Leafs also have the top two power plays in the league. The Bruins check in at 13th with the man advantage. So still another formidable test for the Flyers' PK. 

3. New bench boss, new Bruins
An era ended last month when Boston axed Claude Julien after 10 years on the job and the 2011 Stanley Cup.

Enter interim head coach Bruce Cassidy and the Bruins have taken off under his watch. 

Under Julien, the Bruins were averaging 2.56 goals per game. However, in the 12 games since Cassidy took over, the B's have scored 3.75 goals per game. It's been an offensive renaissance that has helped the Bruins earn 18 points in the standings since Cassidy took over and has propelled them from the outskirts of the playoffs into the top three in the Atlantic.

Combine the offensive outburst with all-world goalie Tuukka Rask and you have the Bruins' recipe for success.

4. Keep an eye on …
Flyers: We'll go with Gostisbehere. He has just looked so much more confident on the ice over the last several weeks. And he's hitting the net more, too, so that obviously helps. But a confident Gostisbehere is a dangerous Gostisbehere. He's got some of that swagger that we saw last season back. And he was great against the Leafs with a goal and an assist. He's now up to six goals and 23 assists on the year.

Bruins: Have to go with the guy everyone loathes but wishes was on their team, Brad Marchand. "The Little Ball of Hate," as he is lovingly known, is in the midst of a spectacular season with 32 goals and 38 assists for 70 points. You always have to know where Marchand is on the ice, and it's usually not hard to find him as he'll be causing a ruckus or getting under someone's skin when he's not putting the puck in the net. He's got nine goals and 10 assists in 24 regular-season games vs. the Flyers.

5. This and that
•​ Saturday's game will be the rubber match between the Flyers and Bruins this season. The Flyers took a 3-2 shootout decision in Philadelphia on Nov. 29. The Bruins ran over the Flyers en route to a 6-3 win on Jan. 14 in Beantown.

•​ Steve Mason is expected to start in net for the Flyers after Michal Neuvirth started Thursday in Toronto. Mason was excellent in the shootout win over Boston in November with 45 saves. 

•​ Simmonds' goal in Toronto was his 14th power-play goal of the season, which tied him with teammate Brayden Schenn for the league lead.

•​ If you haven’t read it yet, check out Flyers Insider Tim Panaccio’s story on what Jake Voracek had to say about the NHL’s indecision on playing in the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. It’s an interesting look from the players’ perspective and Voracek had some very passionate quotes about the situation and wanting to play for his native Czech Republic.

Injuries to Scott Laughton, Tyler Pitlick, a lopsided fight for Joel Farabee and Flyers lose to Wild

Injuries to Scott Laughton, Tyler Pitlick, a lopsided fight for Joel Farabee and Flyers lose to Wild


With a 4-1 defeat to the Wild, the Flyers have two straight losses and they lost two more players in the process.

Alain Vigneault's team stomached a discouraging night Saturday at Xcel Energy Center, suffering consecutive losses in regulation for the first time since Oct. 27-29.

The Flyers (17-10-5) have scored just one goal in three of their last four games, resulting in three regulation losses. In their previous 17 games, the Flyers lost in regulation only twice.

The Wild (16-12-5) improved to 9-1-3 at home and 12-3-4 overall since Nov. 5.

• The Flyers entered the game without forwards Oskar Lindblom (Ewing's sarcoma diagnosis), Travis Konecny (concussion), Michael Raffl (broken right pinkie finger) and Nolan Patrick (migraine disorder).

Their only extra healthy player was defenseman Robert Hagg.

News on the health front got worse during the action as forwards Scott Laughton and Tyler Pitlick left the game with undisclosed injuries and did not return.

Some more roster maneuvering could be on the way as early as Sunday morning. The Flyers have no time to rest up.

• Flyers defensemen were not sharp.

Philippe Myers had a bad turnover on Zach Parise's first-period goal. Ivan Provorov had the same in the second period, which led to Eric Staal's second goal of the night to give the Wild a 3-1 lead.

Travis Sanheim and Justin Braun were also a step behind and not in good position on Staal's first goal, which turned out to be the game-winner during the opening stanza.

Just one of those games in which the Flyers were off from top to bottom.

• As a result, Carter Hart was sprawling all over the place, trying to save the Flyers. He finished with 24 stops on 27 shots.

• Joel Farabee dropped the gloves with Marcus Foligno and it was a rough matchup for the 19-year-old.

• James van Riemsdyk got the Flyers on the board 1:34 into the game. However, the lead didn't last long and the Flyers finished with just 18 shots.

• The Flyers' power play went 0 for 3 and is 6 for its last 55 (10.9 percent).

• Lindblom's jersey hung symbolically in the team's dressing room. The Flyers are rallying behind their 23-year-old brother and teammate as he starts his fight against cancer (see story).

• The Flyers are right back at it Sunday when they visit the Jets (5 p.m. ET/NBCSP+).


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Flyers rallying behind Oskar Lindblom after his Ewing's sarcoma diagnosis

Flyers rallying behind Oskar Lindblom after his Ewing's sarcoma diagnosis

The No. 23 jersey of Oskar Lindblom hung proudly and powerfully in the Flyers' dressing room of Xcel Energy Center.

It was a sign of unity.

The Flyers are rallying behind Lindblom, their 23-year-old brother and teammate who has been diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of cancer that occurs in bones or in the soft tissue around the bones (see story).

Teammates were emotional but strong Saturday night.

“I just went in the room and I saw it, it’s kind of tough not to be emotional," Claude Giroux told reporters before the Flyers' game against the Wild after seeing Lindblom's jersey. "But it’s good for everybody to see his jersey there.”

The team announced Lindblom's diagnosis on Friday afternoon. The Flyers then had to open a back-to-back set on the road against the Wild on Saturday and the Jets on Sunday. 

“He’s a fighter, he’ll get through this," Ivan Provorov said to NBC Sports Philadelphia's Taryn Hatcher before the game. "We love him, we’ll support him all the way and he knows we’re here for him. He’s not fighting this fight alone and we’ll do everything that we can to make sure he feels that there’s all people supporting him.”

The Flyers' captain knows that is most important.

"When one of your teammates is going to go through a fight like this, we’ll all behind him," Giroux said. "We’re there to support him. … We love Oskar a lot, he’s a strong kid."

(Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers)

(Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers)

(Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers)

(Nick Turchiaro/USA Today Images)

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