FLYERS’ PLAYOFFS PUSH CONTINUES TONIGHT AGAINST BRUINS

By Mary Cunningham

The newly energized Flyers can take another step closer to the playoffs tonight when they play the Boston Bruins at the Wells.

They can extend their winning streak to four with a sixth consecutive home victory.

The Flyers (18-15-7) were outscored by 24 goals while going 7-10-5 through Nov. 25 and didn’t win back-to-back games even once during the final month of that stretch. That slow start under rookie coach Dave Hakstol left them scrambling to make up points, which they’ve done recently.

The Flyers have won three straight following a three-game skid and is 11-5-2 with a plus-9 scoring differential over the last six weeks. It improved to 7-1-1 at home in that span after beating the New York Islanders 4-0 on Saturday.

Sean Couturier and Michael Raffl had a goal and an assist apiece,Matt Read scored with a pair of assists, and Steve Mason had 20 saves in his third shutout of the season.

Despite the early struggles, the Flyers aren’t far behind in the Eastern Conference wild-card race at the season’s midway point.

“You need to be a consistent team throughout the year to be a playoff team,” Hakstol said. “We’re in a spot right now where we have to keep pushing to put ourselves into that position.”

They won the last game without promising rookie defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, who is dealing with a lower-body injury. He’ll also sit out against the Bruins (21-15-5), whose 28.1 percent conversion rate on the power play is the best in the league.

The Flyers are among the worst in the NHL with a 78.7 penalty-kill percentage, although opponents are 0 for 8 during its winning streak.

“Going forward, every single game for us is going to be huge,” winger Jakub Voracek said. “Boston is a good team. It’s a challenge for us, but we have to make sure we play physical and play smart.”

Voracek assisted on Claude Giroux’s overtime goal to give the Flyers a 5-4 win over the Bruins on Oct. 21, overcoming a two-goal deficit in the third period and snapping Boston’s six-game winning streak in the series.

The Bruins have scored fewer than two goals five times during a 2-6-1 stretch, including consecutive 2-1 losses to Ottawa on Saturday and the New York Rangers on Monday. Those came after opening a five-game trip with Friday’s 4-1 win at New Jersey.

“We have to learn to win tight games,” coach Claude Julien said after the most recent defeat. “Need more desperation at the end. We were good for the first 40 minutes. The third period just wasn’t as good.”

Boston has one of the league’s best road records at 12-4-3, but it could be experiencing some fatigue during a stretch of six games in eight nights that ends with a back-to-back set against Buffalo and Toronto on Friday and Saturday.

“We’ll just keep plugging away and try and get the wins,” saidTuukka Rask, who has stopped 66 of 70 shots over the last two. “Only thing is we have to find ways to score goals like we did in Jersey, but other than that, I think we’re fine.”

Rask is 1-5-1 with a 2.73 goals-against average during the Bruins’ slump, but he’s 6-0-1 with a 2.10 GAA in his last seven against the Flyers.

Mason beat Boston in the first meeting after going 0-2-2 with a 3.17 GAA over his previous five in the series.

About admin

Loading Facebook Comments ...

Leave a Reply