Bruins, Flyers going in opposite directions
PHILADELPHIA — The Boston Bruins won five of their last six game and are getting healthier by the day.
The Philadelphia Flyers lost an NHL-high nine games in a row and have a roster full of bruised egos.
After getting forwards Ryan Spooner, David Backes and Brad Marchand back into their lineup in a 3-2 win over the against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Bruins could get left winger Anders Bjork back in the lineup Saturday against the Flyers.
Bjork, 22, missed seven games with an upper-body injury suffered in an open-ice collision with Maple Leafs forward Matt Martin on Nov. 11. He practiced with the Bruins on Friday and is expected to be in the lineup against the Flyers.
David Krejci, sidelined with a back injury, is doubtful against the Flyers. He practiced with a no-contact jersey on Friday. Defenseman Adam McQuaid (broken fibula) also skated Friday but is not expected to play on Saturday.
Sidelined 12 games after colon surgery, Backes, 33, returned to the Bruins’ lineup on Wednesday and logged 18:58 against the Lightning.
“My first shift I finished a hit and I was like, ‘That was good, we’re going to be good for the night,'” Backes told the Boston Herald. “There were nerves and butterflies, but none of the stabbing, pulling or any of the real injury-type things to be cautious about. I think that test has been passed.”
Defenseman Charlie McEvoy, 19, played 28:11 against the Lightning on a top pairing with Zdeno Chara. It was the third time this season he logged more than 28 minutes. He ranks first among all NHL rookies in ice time (23:42).
This is the first meeting of the season between the two teams. The Bruins went 2-0-1 against the Flyers last season.
Left winger Jordan Weal is expected to return to the lineup for the Flyers, replacing rookie Danick Martel, who was sent back to the AHL Phantoms. Weal has two goals in 20 games and is expected to play on a second line with rookie center Nolan Patrick and struggling right winger Wayne Simmonds, who has one goal in his last 17 games.
“I think he needs to hit the restart button a little bit and have a fresh start,” coach Dave Hakstol told the Philadelphia Inquirer about Weal, who was a healthy scratched the last two games. “That’s exactly what this opportunity should provide for him. As I’ve said before, his work ethic, his passion, none of that is lacking, nor has it ever been.”
During their nine-game losing streak, the Flyers have been outscored 14-2 after the second period and have blown multiple two-goal leads.
“We’re maybe a little fragile in our confidence right now during games,” Flyers center Sean Couturier said. “When things go our way, maybe instead of just coming back to the basics we maybe panic a little bit.”
The Flyers’ penalty kill is also struggling. Without hard-nosed defenseman Radko Gudas, who is in the midst of a 10-game suspension, the Flyers have allowed 10 power-play goals in their last six games.