It is one of the most intense rivalries in all of hockey and after a combined 100 games played by each team so far this season, it will finally be renewed. If history is any indication, fans should be ready for big plays and even bigger hits when the puck drops for today’s matinee game.
When the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers get together it always turns out to be one of the most physical games of the year for either team. You do not have to go back too far in history to understand how the rivalry between these two teams has escalated to where it currently is.
For those of you who forgot, which is hard to do especially if you’re a Bruins fan, the Flyers fought back from a 3-0 series hole in the second round of the ’09-’10 playoffs against Boston. The next season the two met once again in the Eastern Conference Semi-finals, but this time it was the B’s that won the series in a 4-game sweep, on their way to eventually winning the Stanley Cup that year.
Back to the present, it is a little strange that so deep into the season Boston has yet to play Philadelphia, but that just sets up an even more intense season series for the players. “I think it creates a little bit of in-season rivalry,” Lucic said. “It just creates that rivalry and that mini-series going right back at a team after you faced them. It makes for more heated hockey.”
It may turn out to be a bit of bad luck for the Bruins that they were not able to play the Flyers early in the year when they got out of the gate really slow. Only three games into the season they fired their head coach Peter Laviolette on their way to a 4-10-1 record in their first 15 games.
Despite the slow start and rough beginning to new coach Craig Berube’s NHL head coaching career, the Flyers have turned it around, going 21-11-5 since Nov 7. What has prompted the turnaround? Well it seems Berube has been able to catch the ear of his players, something Laviolette had clearly lost leading to his firing. The Flyers are second in the NHL in fighting majors with 35 which is in line with their head coaches playing style during his career. Berube played 17 seasons (seven as a Flyer), mainly as an enforcer, and he has gotten his team to play with the same nastiness he did. The Bruins are no strangers to fighting this year either, ranking fourth in the league with 32 fighting majors. Looking at those numbers and each team’s style of play, do not be surprised if a couple players drop the gloves in this one.
Boston needs to be prepared to see a very good team especially with the game being in Philadelphia. The Flyers are 11-2-1 in their last fourteen home games and are averaging just fewer than four goals a game. Although there is still a lot of hockey to be played, Philadelphia is in a tie with the Detroit Red Wings for the second wild card spot in the conference and they surely are aware they are currently on the outside of the playoff picture. Boston also needs to be cognizant of the fact that Philly is about to embark on one of their toughest road trips of the season and will have a little extra motivation to win their final two home games before they head to the west coast.
Although I do not know how the game will end, I do know how the game will be played. Whenever Boston and Philly play each other, sparks fly (as do the punches) and tempers flare. It may have taken three and half months but the time is finally here, today at 1pm in Philadelphia a rivalry will reignite.
Game Notes: –Brad Marchand is on a role lately, scoring six goals in the Bruins last four games including back-to-back two-goal games.
-Dougie Hamilton (concussion) and Chris Kelly (broken fibula) both traveled with the team and could play in Philadelphia. Coach Julien said Hamilton has a better chance of playing than Kelly
-Adam McQuaid did not travel with the team (lower-body injury)