So let's see here. The Flyers are on a three-game losing streak, with all three losses coming to division opponents and none of them looking particularly pretty in any way. They're getting run over territorially/in terms of possession, their defensive zone coverage is brutal, they're committing a terrible penalty every seven minutes or so, the goaltenders are putting forth valiant efforts but can't cover up everything occurring in front of them, and all in all it's leading to way too many goals for the other team and not nearly enough for the Flyers.
And just in case it hasn't been joyous enough so far, they'll get right back on the horse today and square off with the defending Eastern Conference champions, who happen to be coming off of a four-day break. Cool.
Boston Bruins (31-15-3, 65 points) at Philadelphia Flyers (25-21-6, 56 points)
1:00 p.m. | Wells Fargo Center | South Philadelphia
TV: CSN Philly, NESN | Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic
Get the Boston perspective at Stanley Cup of Chowder
The Bruins are the only team left in the Eastern Conference that the Flyers haven't faced yet this season, so in case you aren't familiar with their recent work, they're still pretty decent at this whole hockey thing. They're at the top of their division and are behind only Pittsburgh in the Eastern Conference, they've got solid forwards up and down the lineup, they've got Zdeno Chara leading a strong defensive group, they've got maybe the best goaltender in hockey in Tuukka Rask, and they dominate their opponents in terms of possession ...
Did I miss anything there? No? OK. Well, yeah, they're good. And they haven't played since Monday, so they're rested, too. And the Flyers -- the guys who haven't been doing anything right all week -- will host them today. Brace yourselves, kids. This could get bumpy.
To have much of a chance, the Flyers are going to need to tighten things up all around in the defensive zone, do a better job of controlling special teams and not committing penalties, and try to not have at least one period where they spend the entire time defending their own net. Tall tasks, those.
Fortunately, today the Flyers are facing one of only two teams in the NHL that has a higher imbalance of penalty kill time to power play time, so if they can calm the hell down and not be stupid, maybe the special teams battle will work their way today? It would be nice.
Outside of special teams, if there's one real interesting thing to watch for the Flyers today, it may be seeing how these two teams match up their lines and pairings. In particular: if Bruins coach Claude Julien can have his way, Claude Giroux's line will probably spend most of its ice time facing off with maybe the best defensive center in hockey in Patrice Bergeron and maybe the best defensemen in hockey in Zdeno Chara. If Craig Berube can have his way, Giroux's line will be facing off with someone else -- literally, anyone else. We'll see how that develops, but that'll be a test for both the the coaching staff and the Flyers' top line. And if the Flyers don't want to spend basically the whole game defending their own net, like they did on Thursday ... and Wednesday ... and the last 35 minutes or so of Monday ... they'll either have to pass that test or get a lot of positive contributions from the rest of the lineup.
As for that rest of the lineup, the Flyers' second and third lines are still a bit in flux after Berube tinkered with them on Thursday night, but chances are Sean Couturier's line will see a healthy dose of David Krejci. Meanwhile, I don't know for sure, but with the Big Bad Bruins being in town and all, I'd be stunned if we don't see Jay Rosehill in the lineup for one of Steve Downie or Chris VandeVelde. We'll find out closer to warm-ups, I assume.
On defense, the Delco Daily Times' Rob Parent said yesterday from practice that it was suggested that defenseman Erik Gustafsson may draw back into the lineup today, for the first time in just over a month. Gus isn't necessarily known for his prowess in the defensive end, but he's a good skater who should be able to help get the puck out of the zone and up the ice, so if those reports are correct, it'll be nice to see him in. Odds are -- as we discussed yesterday -- that Andrej Meszaros will make a trip back to the press box if Gus is in, though who knows for sure.
Steve Mason will be in net for the Flyers. The two games since he signed his new contract extension haven't been very good (though of course he's been getting no favors from the team in front of him), so he'll try to get back on the right track today. No easy task, but he'll try. Haven't heard as of this writing who will be the Bruins' starter, but with them coming off a break, Rask seems like the obvious choice.
Puck drop at 1. Gamethread up around noon. Stanley Cup of Chowder for the Bahston side of things. Go Flyers.