Flyers-Bruins Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 08, 2013
The Boston Bruins have had plenty of chances for revenge since their historic meltdown against the Philadelphia Flyers, and they've usually taken advantage. Tuukka Rask, however, hasn't gotten one yet. If Rask is in net for Boston on Saturday against the struggling Flyers, it would be his first appearance versus Philadelphia since Game 7 of the teams' memorable 2010 playoff series. The young Finn had seized the starting job that season, posting a 1.97 goals-against average, and he won seven of his first nine postseason games as the Bruins built a 3-0 series lead on Philadelphia in the conference semifinals. The Flyers, though, staged a stunning rally to eliminate Boston, overcoming a three-goal deficit in Game 7 with four unanswered goals against Rask. Tim Thomas has played throughout the Bruins' 10-1-1 stretch in this series since, including a four-game sweep in the 2011 playoffs. But Thomas is gone and Rask is thriving in the starting role again, and he seems especially primed to play Saturday after getting a rest during the Bruins' most recent game. Anton Khudobin was in net Thursday as Boston (15-3-3) beat Toronto 4-2 to avoid a third straight defeat. The Bruins squandered third-period leads in losses to Montreal and Washington, and the Maple Leafs scored to make it a one-goal game in the third Thursday. But Boston sealed the win on Tyler Seguin's empty-netter, his second goal and third point of the game. "You can't live in the past," coach Claude Julien said. "I knew it wasn't going to be pretty. When you lose two games the way we did, I knew it was going to be tough. "There's peaks and valleys along the way and we're going through it like any other team," he said, "except for Chicago." The valleys have been rare for the Bruins this year. They have the best winning percentage in the Eastern Conference, and they can take over the East's points lead - for at least a few hours - with a win in this matinee. Boston is 3-0-0 in afternoon games in 2013 after going 12-14-2 in such contests over the previous two seasons. The Flyers (11-13-1) have had a much tougher time in this shortened campaign, putting themselves in danger of missing the playoffs for only the second time since 1994. They're coming off back-to-back losses to the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh, and they blew a three-goal lead against the Penguins in Thursday's 5-4 defeat. Forward Scott Hartnell called the letdown "embarrassing," but coach Peter Laviolette struck a more positive tone after the game. "It can't break us," Laviolette said. "We need to come back and win a game." It's unclear if Ilya Bryzgalov will be in net after being pulled Thursday. He has allowed eight goals on 36 shots in the last two games, although he's 3-0-2 with a 1.96 GAA in his career at Boston. The Bruins have scored at least three goals in eight of their last nine games, and Patrice Bergeron has led the way with 14 points in that stretch. Last season, Philadelphia struggled to slow down Seguin, who had three goals and three assists as Boston won three of four meetings. Offense hasn't exactly been the problem lately for the Flyers, especially with Jakub Voracek posting nine goals and nine assists in his last nine games. Philadelphia's power play has gone 13 for 39 (33.3 percent) in that stretch, but that unit will face a tough test Saturday. The Bruins have the league's best penalty kill at 91.9 percent.
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