Connor Bunnaman

Flyers vs. Bruins: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

Flyers vs. Bruins: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

Alain Vigneault's team will change things up a bit as it takes on another challenge at the Wells Fargo Center.

After hosting the Capitals and Lightning, the Flyers (23-16-6) welcome the Bruins (27-8-11) Monday. 

Let's get into the essentials:

When: 7 p.m. ET with Flyers Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m. ET
Where: Wells Fargo Center
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

• Connor Bunnaman is the latest to get a crack at fourth-line center.

The Flyers have tried just about every player and combination within their bottom six, especially on the fourth line.

Because of injuries and inconsistency, the Flyers are still searching for their desired depth 45 games into the season. That search could heat up externally as the Feb. 24 trade deadline gets closer.

“I think what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to give some players an opportunity to show that they can play in the NHL, and they can perform and help a team, and contribute to a team winning," Vigneault said Monday after morning skate. "We’ve given a couple of guys some looks, we’re going to continue until we find the right guys that are going to be a part of that winning formula, so that we have success. That’s where we are right now."

Near the end of training camp and the preseason, general manager Chuck Fletcher was high on Bunnaman's ability at fourth-line center. The 21-year-old opened 2019-20 with the big club, was sent down to AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley after four games and then missed a month because of a high ankle sprain.

As he's gotten healthier, the 6-foot-3, 214-pounder has played better, putting up three goals and an assist in his last four games for Scott Gordon's Phantoms.

"For the last week there, Scott had been happy with his play, so he gives us skating ability, he gives us size in the middle and hopefully he can make the right decisions with the puck,” Vigneault said.

Bunnaman will try to be noticeable in limited minutes.

You’re not out there a lot, you’re 100 percent, you’re not as tired going out for another shift — kind of think of it that way, a positive way.

It’s important to make sure you’re not just another jersey out there getting lost.

• Vigneault has shaken up his lines considerably with the Bruins coming to town. Boston, which is tied with the Capitals and Blues for the NHL's most points (65), features one of hockey's best lines in Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak.

Pastrnak leads the league in goals (35) and is fourth in points (65), while Marchand is right behind him (62). The trio is a combined plus-47.

The Flyers will rely heavily on Ivan Provorov and Matt Niskanen, along with their reshaped top-two lines.

“I’m sure a lot of teams have tried shutting them down — both their top two guys have got over 60 points, it’s not an easy task," Vigneault said. "We’re probably going to need two lines that are going to permit us to do that. That’s also part of shuffling some of the lines. I’m hoping we can get two lines. Nisky and Provy have been pretty good facing the challenge of top performers. It’s going to be a good test for us."

• Carter Hart is 3-0-0 with a 2.23 goals-against average and .926 save percentage in three career games against the Bruins.

Projected lineup

Forwards

Claude Giroux-Kevin Hayes-Travis Konecny
Michael Raffl-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
James van Riemsdyk-Scott Laughton-Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Joel Farabee-Connor Bunnaman-Tyler Pitlick

Defensemen

Ivan Provorov-Matt Niskanen
Travis Sanheim-Philippe Myers
Robert Hagg-Mark Friedman

Goalies

Carter Hart
Brian Elliott

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Flyers weekly observations: No goals but positives, Connor Bunnaman returns, Claude Giroux's birthday

Flyers weekly observations: No goals but positives, Connor Bunnaman returns, Claude Giroux's birthday

The Flyers went 1-1-1 over the past week and entered Sunday holding the Eastern Conference's second wild-card spot via tiebreaker.

After a 1-4-1 road trip, the Flyers are hoping some home cooking can push them back into a more comfortable position within the playoff race. Before their NHL-mandated bye week from Jan. 22-30, the Flyers play four of five games at the Wells Fargo Center, where they've performed significantly better compared to on the road.

Let's get into some weekly observations:

• As frustrating as it is to be shut out, the Flyers can take a lot positives away from Saturday night's 1-0 loss to the Lightning.

That Tampa Bay team was scoring 4.67 goals per game over its nine-game winning streak coming into Philadelphia and the Flyers held it to one flukey goal.

Last season, the Flyers allowed 5.67 goals per game to the Lightning in three matchups (all losses). Holding the Capitals and Lightning to a combined three goals and 0 for 9 on the power play in back-to-back games is nothing to fret about.

The Flyers have had issues with consistently producing on the offensive side, but that's the defensive response the Flyers needed after allowing 28 goals (15 in the first period) on the six-game road swing.

• The Flyers recalled forward Connor Bunnaman from AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley on Sunday and loaned winger David Kase to the Phantoms.

The move has a lot to do with the Flyers' play down the middle. The team wants to play Scott Laughton on the wing, where he's been more effective in greater minutes.

Near the end of the preseason, general manager Chuck Fletcher was high on Bunnaman's ability to play fourth-line center. The 6-foot-3, 214-pounder will get his shot to give the Flyers better flexibility within their lineup.

But if Morgan Frost starts putting up points with the Phantoms, he won't be far away from giving the Flyers another offensive jolt (and more balance) down the middle. The Flyers needed the 20-year-old playmaker back in November and might need him again soon.

• Claude Giroux turned 32 years old on Sunday.

Among the Flyers' all-time franchise leaders, the captain is second in assists (544), third in games played (865), fourth in points (793) and 10th in goals (249).

Since the 2011-12 season, Giroux is third among active NHL players in points (643), behind only Patrick Kane (692) and Sidney Crosby (661).

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Future Flyers Report: Could prospect Connor Bunnaman be headed back to NHL soon?

Future Flyers Report: Could prospect Connor Bunnaman be headed back to NHL soon?

It’s time for our weekly check-in on the Flyers’ prospects playing in the AHL, overseas and at the junior and college levels.

• The Flyers' depth at forward is being seriously tested.

The team is without Travis Konecny (concussion, out indefinitely), Michael Raffl (broken right pinkie finger, out approximately four weeks) and Nolan Patrick (migraine disorder, out indefinitely).

Going into their three-game road trip, the Flyers have only 12 healthy forwards. In his fifth stint with the big club since the beginning of 2018-19, Mikhail Vorobyev is centering the Flyers' fourth line. The 22-year-old is in audition mode yet again with the Flyers and will have to be noticeable in limited minutes to stick.

How Vorobyev performs moving forward and the Flyers' depth concerns could open the door for Connor Bunnaman. The 21-year-old forward made the Flyers' season-opening roster. He's healthy again with AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley after missing nearly a full month because of a lower-body injury.

Bunnaman brings size and positional versatility as the 6-foot-3, 214-pounder can player either center or winger. This past week, Bunnaman scored a goal and had eight shots in three games.

The Flyers may want to have him play more games with the Phantoms before calling him up. However, they may need him soon. Bunnaman has Raffl-like potential and ability.

On Sept. 26, Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher spoke highly of the 2016 fourth-round pick who scored 19 goals in 62 games with Lehigh Valley last season and two goals this preseason.

He’s been the best player in training camp. He was outstanding in the practices. ... By best player, I mean in terms of expectations. He’s come in and blown them away.

He honestly seems twice as fast this year to last year. I know we make a habit of saying players are quicker and faster but this guy is legitimately much faster than last year and he scored 19 goals last year, had a heck of a year in the American League.

There’s no reason to doubt that he can play some games for us this year.

The Phantoms play Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The Flyers play Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. Keep an eye on Bunnaman and the big club's bottom-six depth.

Quick hits

• Noah Cates is continuing to turn heads.

As a sophomore, the 2017 fifth-round pick leads defending national champion Minnesota Duluth with nine goals and is a point-per-game player (16 points in 16 contests).

The 20-year-old winger is coming off a four-point weekend (three goals, one assist) in the Bulldogs' two-game sweep of Omaha.

The Flyers couldn't stop bragging about Cates this summer and are probably bragging some more to each other this week.

"I just need to play the way I can play, especially these next couple years with my development," Cates said in June. "They're on board with that, they're happy with where I'm at, but I've got to keep making strides."

He's doing just that.

• Cam York, the Flyers' 2019 first-round pick, recorded a goal and an assist in Michigan's 4-1 win over Penn State last Friday.

The mobile and skilled puck-moving defenseman owns nine points (four goals, five assists) in 14 games as a freshman.

• Egor Zamula enjoyed a three-point weekend for the Calgary Hitmen.

The 19-year-old is third among WHL defensemen with 28 points (seven goals, 21 assists) in 28 games and has a plus-19 rating.

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