Flyers vs. Bruins Preview
Nearly eight months to the day of their historic win in Boston, the Flyers return to TD Garden on Thursday night for a matchup between division leaders.
Philadelphia (27-10-5) needed a win on the final day of the regular season to sneak into the 2010 playoffs but is currently alone atop the Eastern Conference. The Flyers have won four straight and are a conference-best 12-3-1 since Dec. 3.
According to NHL odds and oddsmakers from online sports book Sportsbook.com have made the Bruins -122 money line favorites for Thursday's game against the Flyers. Current NHL Public Betting Information shows that 67% of more than 137 bets for this game have been placed on the Bruins -122.
No Eastern team has more points since the start of December than the Bruins (27), going 6-1-3 in their last 10 to move atop the Northeast Division.
They were the East's sixth seed last season and Philadelphia was the seventh for the teams' conference semifinal matchup, in which Boston blew a 3-0 series lead and lost Game 7 by wasting a 3-0 lead at TD Garden on May 14. The Bruins (23-12-7) became the third team in league history to lose a series after winning the first three games.
The first matchup in Boston since that one came Dec. 11 - 10 days after Philadelphia lost 3-0 in the first meeting of the season - and the Flyers handed the Bruins' home crowd more heartbreak by winning 2-1 on Mike Richards' goal with three seconds left in overtime.
"I felt like (the fans) wanted to get back at us for what happened last year," goalie Brian Boucher said after Philadelphia's return to Boston. "It definitely had that playoff feel. It's a great atmosphere."
Boucher made 35 saves in that victory, his first versus the Bruins since a leg injury in Game 5 of the semifinal series knocked him out of the postseason. He's been outstanding lately, winning seven of eight starts while posting a 1.87 goals-against average.
He had made three consecutive starts before struggling former No. 1 netminder Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 38 shots in a 5-2 victory over Buffalo on Tuesday night. It's unclear if the rookie or Boucher will start this game.
Tim Thomas will likely be in Boston's net after posting his league-leading sixth shutout in a 6-0 home win over Ottawa on Tuesday night. He's 5-1-1 with a 1.55 GAA in his last seven games at TD Garden - he has the same numbers in his past seven versus the Flyers.
Thomas was backed by Patrice Bergeron's first career hat trick Tuesday. The seventh-year center has eight goals and nine assists in the last 13 games.
"I just think our forecheck's been a lot better and we're in sync as a line a little bit more," Bergeron said. "I thought we were doing good things also before but the puck wasn't going in and now it is, so obviously you have to take it and go with it."
No Eastern team has scored more than the Flyers, who have 142 goals with 37 coming during their current 8-2-0 run on the road.
Danny Briere has 18 points in his last 12 road games after recording a goal and three assists Tuesday, hours after being left off the All-Star roster. He has six goals and six assists in the last seven games overall and his 22 goals lead the Flyers, but their only All-Star selection was fellow winger Claude Giroux.
"Danny B's having a heck of a season and it gives him motivation to shove it up whoever didn't pick him," said teammate Scott Hartnell, who has five goals during the four-game win streak.