The Boston Bruins (31-15-3, 65 points) will face the Philadelphia Flyers (25-21-6, 56 points) Saturday (1 p.m.) at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. Here’s what to watch for:
ABOUT TIME: It’s unusual that it has taken this long into the season for these two teams to renew their rivalry. Given the recent history, fans, players and coaches alike are looking forward to puck drop between the Bruins and Flyers. This is the first of three meetings this season.
“Yeah, it is a little odd that’s it’s taken this long to play Philly,” said Bruins forward Milan Lucic. “Obviously, there’s some history with Philly, playing them twice in the playoffs and the Winter Classic, as well. The teams are pretty good reflections of their cities and when they get together it’s always a battle.”
Last season, Philadelphia was 2-1-0 in the season series.
WHAT HAVE YOU DONE LATELY: The Bruins enjoyed four days off between after beating the Kings on Monday. Boston defeated the Los Angeles, 3-2, Monday at TD Garden. Last Sunday, the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks beat the Bruins 3-2 in a shootout, but Boston played well. The Bruins are 5-4-1 in their last 10 games. Philadelphia is 4-4-2 in its last 10 games and the Flyers are riding a three-game losing skid.
MASKED MEN: Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask is 22-12-3 with a 2.11 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage. He leads all NHL goaltenders with five shutouts. He owns a 3-1-1 record, including one shutout in six games against the Flyers. Philadelphia’s Steve Mason is 19-12-5 with a 2.57 GAA and a .915 SP. In his last 28 games, he’s 17-5-5 with only five regulation losses since Nov. 2. He has a 3-0-1 record with a 1.48 GAA and a .957 SP in four career games against the Bruins.
HOT STREAK: Bruins forward Brad Marchand has played extremely well of late, recording six goals in the last four games. He scored two goals against the Blackhawks last Sunday, and followed that up with another two-goal performance against the Kings on Monday. He has 11 goals and three assists for 14 points in his last 15 games.
RETURNING: It’s possible the Bruins could see the return of forward Chris Kelly and defenseman Dougie Hamilton to the lineup. Kelly has missed the last 20 games due to a broken right fibula, but was cleared for contact earlier this week and has been practicing with the team. Hamilton has missed the last four games with a mild concussion and he said following Friday’s practice that he’s ready to play. Bruins coach Claude Julien said a decision will be made prior to Saturday’s game if one or both will receive final clearance to return.