Back Check with the Bruins Buff

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Game #52 Preview -- Bruins @ Flyers

Game #52 Preview
(1) Boston Bruins: 37-8-6
(6) Philadelphia Flyers: 26-14-9

Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Home Arena: Wachovia Center
Season Series: 0-0
TV Broadcasts: NESN (HD), CSN-PH (HD)

Boston Injuries

(D) Matt Hunwick -- Day-To-Day
(C/W) Petteri Nokelainen -- Day-To-Day
(LW) Marco Sturm -- Out For Season

Note: (G) Manny Fernandez is likely to back up Thomas tomorrow

Philadelphia Injuries

(C) Danny Briere -- 2-4 weeks
(LW) Josh Gratton -- Indefinite
(C) Jon Kalinski -- Indefinite
(RW) Josh Beaulieu -- Indefinite
(D) Derian Hatcher -- Indefinite
(D) Mike Rathje -- Indefinite

Who's Hot for Boston?

(C) Marc Savard -- Goals in four straight games, points in eight straight
(D) Dennis Wideman -- Six points in last six games, leads league with +30 rating on the season
(G) Tim Thomas -- 6-1-2 with .936 save percentage in last nine starts

Who's Hot for Philadelphia?

(C) Jeff Carter -- Nine points in last eight games, 32 goals on the season
(RW) Mike Knuble -- Five points in last five games
(G) Antero Niittymaki -- 3-1-1 with 2.13 goals against average in last five starts

The Buff's Three Keys to the Game

1.) Sticks Down, No Hooking, Minimum Interference

The B's can't afford to rack up reckless penalties against the Flyers. Philly boasts the second best power play in the league, scoring 24.2 percent of the time with 46 goals on the man advantage.

But its mammoth power play performs even better in front of the home crowd. The Broadstreet Bullies are effective 35.1 percent of the time with the man advantage on home ice.

No question about it -- the B's have to stay out of the box if they want to come out on top. And that's easier said than done, considering Boston has put up 45 penalty minutes in its last four games.

Boston went shorthanded six times against Montreal on Sunday, giving the Habs two 5-on-3 opportunities. Thanks to efficient penalty killing, it allowed only one power play goal.

Still, those kinds of dangerous opportunities could put the B's out of tomorrow's game.

On the flip side, the Bruins need to...

2.) Launch an Effective Power Play

Boston is an abysmal 0-12 on the power play in its last three games. But tomorrow might be the perfect opportunity to crawl out of that slump.

Philly takes the most penalties in the league, racking up about 19 penalty minutes a game. The Flyers have been shorthanded 23 times in their last three games, allowing four power play goals in that span.

But despite their recent performance, the Flyers still hold one of the best home penalty kills in the league at 86.2 percent. They've only allowed 12 power play goals against on home ice.

Coach Julien addressed the B's recent struggle on the man advantage at practice this morning. According to the Boston Globe, the squad endured intense power play drills. Both power play units remain unchanged.

3.) Maintain a Physical Presence

Though Philly houses some big boys, the Bruins can't let themselves be intimidated. Throwing the body and finishing checks is a key way to get the Flyers off their game.

Check it out -- Philly only has 389 hits at home. That's one of the lowest numbers in the league.

Boston, on the other hand, has the fifth most away hits in the league. Its accumulated 546 hits on the road. By all means Boston should be able to beat the Flyers physically.

Why is it important? Playing a physical game can force the opposition to turn over the puck. Philadelphia is no exception -- it's coughed up the puck 330 times at home. That ranks in the top half of the league.

Long story short: The B's need to battle along the boards and bruise up the Flyers. Playing physical will lead to turnovers, giving the B's a better chance at maintaining puck possession.

Lucic, Hnidy, Bitz... it's time for you guys to earn your paychecks.

Fact of the Game

Once upon a time, the Boston Bruins and the Philadelphia Flyers were playoff rivals. But one wouldn't know it now -- they haven't met in the playoffs in more than 30 years.

The teams last battled each other in the 1978 Stanley Cup semifinals. The Bruins won the series 4-1, defeating Philly in the post-season for the second year in a row.

The Black and Gold made quick work of the Flyers. It swept the first two games of the series, including a nail-biting 3-2 overtime finish in game one.

But the Broadstreet Bullies refused to go down without a fight. Philly posted a 3-1 victory in the third game of the series, maintaining a bit of dignity by not getting swept. Boston went on to win the next two challenges.

Unfortunately, the B's didn't lift the cup that year. They fell to the hated Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup Finals after a hard-fought 4-2 series.


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