The Flyers celebrate after Scott Hartnell's goal in Wednesday's loss to the Hurricanes. The Flyers have lost three straight games and six of their last eight. (Photo by Amy Irvin/Flyers Faithful)
It's been 40 years since the Flyers won their first Stanley Cup in 1973-74. On Saturday, they will honor that team against the franchise they defeated to get there.
In the midst of a three-game losing streak and losses in six of their last eight games, the Philadelphia Flyers need to pull out all the positives they can find. Facing the Boston Bruins doesn't look like a positive on the surface.
But the Bruins are the next opponent for the recently slumping Flyers in the midst of a difficult stretch. They face the reigning Eastern Conference champions for the first time in the 2013-14 season on Saturday at Wells Fargo Center at 1 p.m.
The Bruins are second in the Eastern Conference - and tied for the top spot in the Atlantic Division - with 65 points and a 31-15-3 record.
This is a team deep with talent. David Krejci leads the team with 39 points and 29 assists. Milan Lucic and Patrice Bergeron are tied with 32 points. Jerome Iginla has 29 points. Brad Marchand has 28 points. Torey Krug leads all defensemen with 25 points. And that's without factoring in Zdeno Chara, Johnny Boychuk, Daniel Paille or Loui Eriksson.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the Bruins season has been 22-year-old Reilly Smith. Smith is second on the team with 36 points and leads the team with 15 goals.
In goal, Tuukka Rask leads the way and will start on Saturday. Rask is 22-12-3 with a 2.11 GAA and .929 save percentage.
The Flyers will counter with Steve Mason. Mason sat out Thursday's game against Columbus after taking the loss against Carolina on Wednesday. Mason is 19-12-5 with a 2.57 GAA and .915 save percentage.
In Thursday's game against the Blue Jackets, Craig Berube shuffled the lines to move Vincent Lecavalier to center on the second line and Scott Hartnell down to the third line. The second line of Hartnell, Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds had been the Flyers best of late. The third of Lecavalier, Matt Read and Sean Couturier had struggled.
Either way, it helped Lecavalier snap a long goalless drought on Thursday with a power-play goal.
The Flyers may also make a change defensively. All signs point to a return of Erik Gustafsson to the lineup which will mean that one of the current defensemen, most likely Luke Schenn, will be the odd man out.
Whatever lineup changes are supposed to help boost the Flyers back to the team that closed December and opened January with wins in seven of eight games, they need to get the top line of Claude Giroux, Jake Voracek and Michael Raffl going strong. Giroux scored on Wednesday and Voracek has been hampered by a hand injury.
- Power Play: Flyers (18th, 27th at home), Bruins (13th, 17th on road)
- Penalty Kill: Flyers (5th, 7th at home), Bruins (12th, 12th on road)
- The Flyers won the season series against the Bruins in 2013. The Bruins won the first game on March 9, 3-0. The Flyers won, 3-1, on March 30. They also won, 5-2, on April 23.
- Milestone Watch: Wayne Simmonds needs one goal for 100 in his NHL career. Vincent Lecavalier needs six points for 900 in his career. Matt Read needs six points for 100 in his career. Steve Downie is one assist away from 100 in his career.
Flyers scratches: Luke Schenn, Hal Gill, Jay Rosehill, Zac Rinaldo
Flyers Projected Lineup
Line 1: Michael Raffl-Claude Giroux-Jake Voracek
Line 2: Brayden Schenn-Vincent Lecavalier-Wayne Simmonds
Line 3: Matt Read-Sean Couturier-Scott Hartnell
Line 4: Steve Downie-Chris VandeVelde-Adam Hall
D-Pair 1: Kimmo Timonen-Braydon Coburn
D-Pair 2: Nick Grossmann-Mark Streit
D-Pair 3: Erik Gustafsson-Andrej Meszaros
Goalie: Steve Mason
Where to Watch
Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic
Kevin Durso is the lead beat writer for Flyerdelphia. Follow him on twitter @KDursoPhilsNet.