Sunday, September 21, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

5 things to watch tonight

As Peter Laviolette said after Monday’s Flyers practice in Voorhees, heading into tonight’s matchup with Boston at the Wells Fargo Center, the Flyers are the least likely team to be caught thinking about last year’s epic comeback.

5 things to watch tonight

Flyers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky returns to the starting lineup tonight against the Bruins. (Yong Kim / Staff Photographer)
Flyers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky returns to the starting lineup tonight against the Bruins. (Yong Kim / Staff Photographer)

As Peter Laviolette said after Monday’s Flyers practice in Voorhees, heading into tonight’s matchup with Boston at the Wells Fargo Center, the Flyers are the least likely team to be caught thinking about last year’s epic comeback.

Why?

For Boston, it was an epic failure – and an epic collapse.

Exactly 20 players remain on the Bruins’ roster from last year’s playoff debacle in Boston, as the Flyers became just the 3rd team in NHL history to erase a 3-0 series deficit – and capped it off with that miraculous 3-0 Game 7 comeback at TD Garden.

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Two of those players – Marc Savard and Marco Sturm – have yet to play this season for the Bruins as they are still nursing injuries. Savard could return as soon as this week.

With that, here are 5 things to watch tonight (Comcast SportsNet, 7 o’clock):

1. Tim Thomas vs. Sergei BobrovskyTim Thomas lost his starting job for much of last season but snatched it back from Tuukka Rask this season with an unbelievably hot start. He started this year 8-0 and still leads the league in save percentage and goals against-average. Thomas has won his last 4 starts in Philadelphia, while Bobrovsky – who last started on Black Friday – has won just once in his last 4 appearances.

2. The Young Guns – Tonight is the Flyers’ first crack at Boston’s young guns, Tyler Seguin, Brad Marchand and Jordan Caron. Seguin, 18, was drafted No. 2 overall this past summer. He has 4 goals and 4 assists in 22 games while averaging close to 13 minutes per game. Caron, 20, has 7 points in 19 games. Marchand, 22, is in the Top 5 in the NHL with 2 shorthanded goals.

3. Difference in ‘D’ – Boston GM Peter Chiarelli was forced to move Matt Hunwick on Tuesday to Colorado in exchange for Philly native Colby Cohen, who was sent to AHL Providence, to get under the salary cap with Savard ready to return. The Bruins’ blue line isn’t nearly as deep as the Flyers, which could be the difference in the game. Adam McQuaid, who has only played in 29 NHL games, will be Boston’s sixth defenseman tonight.

4. Power Play Woes – The Flyers enter tonight’s game against Boston having capitalized on just 2 of their last 34 power play chances. They spent at least half of Tuesday’s practice re-tooling the power play, trying to get it back on track. Boston has the NHL’s 5th best penalty kill (86.3-percent) – but they also take the NHL’s 12th most penalties per game (13.9 minutes per game). Away from special teams, the Flyers lead the NHL (by a significant margin) in 5-on-5 goals-for, goals-against ratio with 1.63.

5. Slow Starts – Anyone in for a slow moving first period? Despite scoring more than any other team in the NHL, the Flyers have not scored in the first period in 4 of their last 5 games. Similarly, the Bruins have just 1 goal in their last 7 games in the first period. Boston has also allowed fewer goals than any other team in the NHL.

WHO TO WATCH: Bruins forward Nathan Horton, who was acquired in an offseason trade with Florida. Horton has 8 goals and 10 assists in 22 games – though Milan Lucic leads the Bruins in scoring with 10 goals.

WHERE THEY RANK:

Flyers: Power Play 12th, Penalty Kill 9th
Boston: Power Play 17th, Penalty Kill 5th

Claude Giroux: 10th in goals, 3rd in power play points, 26th in points, 1st in shorthanded goals, 7th in shooting percentage
Mike Richards: 20th in points, 10th in shorthanded goals
Chris Pronger: 26th in points by defensemen
Sean O’Donnell: 1st in plus/minus
Andrej Meszaros: 4th in plus/minus
Scott Hartnell: 9th in plus/minus
Danny Briere: 14th in plus/minus
Jeff Carter: 4th in shots
Sergei Bobrovsky: 6th in goals against-average, 4th in wins, 6th in save percentage

For the latest updates, follow Frank Seravalli on Twitter at http://twitter.com/DNFlyers.

About this blog
Frequent Flyers is your home for news and analysis of all things orange and black. Reach Frank at seravaf@phillynews.com.

Frank Seravalli Daily News Sports Columnist
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