Based on their inconsistent play over the last five weeks, the Flyers have fallen from their perch among the Eastern Conference elite.
Wednesday, they get a chance to show they belong with the big boys.
The Flyers will host the Boston Bruins, the NHL’s surprising leader with 80 points.
“I got a sense at practice today that it’s a big game and we really want to see where we’re at,” said Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen, whose team is 7-6-2 since their Christmas break.
The Bruins lead the NHL in goals-against average (2.12 per game) and they are second in goals scored.
Boston has the league’s best road record (18-5-3). They will be facing a Flyers team that is 13-1-2 in their last 15 home games.
The Bruins have few weaknesses.
“They forecheck five guys; they defend with five guys,” Timonen said. “We have to be at the top of our game to win.”
They also have to get their power play untracked. The Flyers are 1 for 23 on the power play in their last four games.
Wednesday starts a home-and-home series with the Bruins. The Flyers will play at Boston Saturday afternoon.
Flyers goalie Marty Biron will start Wednesday and, in all probability, on Saturday. He is expected to face the sizzling Tim Thomas on Wednesday.
BTW, Las Vegas made Boston a 25 to 1 longshot to win the Cup when the season started. Sixteen teams had better odds, including the Flyers (10/1). Detroit was the favorite at 3/1.
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In an interesting side note to Wednesday’s game, all four of the teams’ goalies _ the Flyers’ Biron and Antero Niittymaki, the Bruins’ Thomas and Manny Fernandez _ can become free agents after the season.
That has raised speculation that each team could trade one of its goalies if it feels it won’t re-sign them after the season.
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About 500 tickets remain for Wednesday’s game.
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Has it really been 35 years since the Flyers stunned the Bruins to win their first Cup?
_ Sam Carchidi