Flyers vs. Bruins Preview
He certainly helped the Bruins begin to exact some revenge.
Thomas, whose 41-save shutout against Philadelphia began Boston's 4-0-1 December run, will likely be back in net Saturday night as the Flyers return to TD Garden - the arena where they completed their comeback in May.
Oddsmakers from online sports book SBGGlobal.com have made the Bruins –127 money line favorites for Saturday's game against the Flyers. Current NHL Public Betting Information shows that 67% of more than 86 bets for this game have been placed on the Bruins -127.
Trends show Philadelphia is 9-17 revenging a home loss versus opponent over the past two seasons.
After winning the 2009 Vezina Trophy, Thomas lost the starting job last season to Tuukka Rask, who was playing as the Bruins blew a 3-0 series lead to Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
The 36-year-old Thomas became the subject of summer trade rumors, but now looks like the early frontrunner for another Vezina, posting an NHL-best 1.49 goals-against average while going 14-2-2.
"He never gave up on himself," teammate Mark Recchi said. "He's healthy, and he just got off to a great start. I haven't seen a run like that in a long time."
Perhaps his best performance came Dec. 1 in Philadelphia, where his numerous point-blank stops included a penalty shot by Flyers winger Scott Hartnell during Boston's 3-0 win.
"We met a goalie that stops everything - backdoors, breakaways, some great chances in front," Hartnell said. "He's covering up the rebounds. It's frustrating when you have so many chances and rebounds, 2-on-1s, and everything. He's there to make the save every time."
Rask was in net for Boston's 5-2 win over the New York Islanders on Thursday night, but Thomas figures to return Saturday. He's 8-2-1 with a 2.07 GAA in his career against Philadelphia.
The Bruins (16-8-3) have outscored opponents 21-7 in five December games, the only blemish coming when they squandered a lead in the final minute last Saturday at Toronto and lost 3-2 in a shootout.
In Thursday's win, Marc Savard picked up his first point since returning from post-concussion syndrome, assisting on one of Milan Lucic's two goals. Lucic has five goals this month and 15 on the season - two shy of his career high.
"I am taking advantage of my opportunities right now, and it's also nice to have a little luck," Lucic said. "It's a credit to my linemates. They are finding me when I am open."
The Flyers (18-7-5), whose 41 points are one fewer than NHL-leading Pittsburgh, continue to cruise behind one of the NHL's most productive offenses.
The loss to the Bruins was their only regulation defeat since Nov. 18, a 6-1-3 stretch that continued with a 4-1 win at Toronto on Thursday.
Danny Briere had two goals and an assist in that game. Briere, whose 16 goals rank fifth in the NHL, had five goals and five assists against the Bruins during last season's playoffs.
"There's no doubt that since the playoffs last year, this is the best I've felt, the most comfortable I've been," Briere said. "(My) responsibilities are up. Any hockey player who's competitive, you want those responsibilities."
Briere scored the game-tying goal in Game 7 in Boston on May 14, when the Flyers erased a 3-0 deficit in the game after already coming back from three games down in the series.
Philadelphia, which eventually lost to Chicago in the Stanley Cup finals, may be even stronger this season with rookie Sergei Bobrovsky in net. Although Bobrovsky lost his most recent start Wednesday in a shootout to San Jose, he's 14-4-3 with a 2.29 GAA.