When a team has won seven straight games, it is difficult to say they have had a “rough” time of late. Well, in the Flyers case, that is exactly what has happened. One week ago, the Claude Giroux took a knee from Wayne Simmonds in the Flyers 5-2 victory over the Lightning. It was announced Tuesday during their 5-1 win over the Capitals that Giroux will be out indefinitely with a concussion. During Thursday night’s 4-3 victory over the Canadiens, the team announced that captain Chris Pronger will be out the remainder of the regular season and playoffs. Today, the Boston Bruins came into the Flyers last game at the Wells Fargo Center in 2011 and absolutely handled them. In addition to the 6-0 loss, the team also lost Claude Giroux’s replacement, Sean Couturier, to a head injury when he was hit with a shot from the point off the stick of Kimmo Timonen.
The Philadelphia Flyers will play their last home game of 2011 this afternoon against the Boston bruins at 1 pm at the Wells Fargo Center. The next time the Flyers play at “home” is January 2nd at Citizens Bank Park for the 2012 Bridgestone Winter Classic and the next time they play at the Wells Fargo Center is January 5th against the Chicago Blackhawks.
This afternoon’s matchup between the Flyers (20-7-3, 43 points) and the Bruins (20-9-1, 41 points) is a matchup of the top two teams in the Eastern Conference. The Flyers are winner of seven straight and nine of their last ten. They are coming off of a 4-3 win Thursday against the Canadiens. The Bruins have won three straight and a 7-2-1 in their last ten games. They are also coming off a victory with a 5-2 win in Ottawa on Wednesday.
The Flyers have been bitten hard by the injury bug. Captain Chris Pronger is out of the rest of the regular season and playoffs with a concussion. Center Claude Giroux, the NHL leader in points (39), is out indefinitely with a concussion. Rookie center Brayden Schenn is also out indefinitely with a concussion. The losses of Giroux and Pronger are big blows to the East’s top team but if their play on Tuesday against Washington and Thursday against Montreal was any preview of what is to come, they are going to be alright. Sergei Bobrovsky (6-2-1, 2.78 GAA) got the start in net in Thursday night’s 4-3 victory against the Canadiens after Ilya Bryzgalov (14-5-2, 2.75 GAA) started the previous six games.
The Bruins have given two thirds of their starts to the reigning Vezina Trophy winner Tim Thomas (14-5-0, 1.93 GAA) while Tuuka Rask (6-4-1, 1.82 GAA) has played exceptional this year too. The Bruins went the entire month of November without losing a game in regulation going 12-0-1. They are lead offensively by 19 year old, former 2nd overall pick, Tyler Seguin. Seguin leads the team with 13 points and 26 points.
Puck drops at 1 pm at the Wells Fargo Center. The game will be on Comcast Sportsnet and 94.1 WIP.
It’s seven o’clock! The Flyers game is starting! I was so excited. At 7:40 I was still waiting for the puck to be dropped. I waited as each of the Bruins took the Cup and skated around, holding it up, and kissing it in front of the fans that crammed the TD Garden. I sat patiently and watched as older Bruins had come back to help raise the Stanley Cup champion banner. Finally, I just left the room and came back in as they were finally singing the national anthem. I cannot imagine what it is like to win the Stanley Cup and raise the banner on opening night the following year. The reason I can’t imagine it is because I was not alive in 1975, the last time the Flyers won it all. But, after a lot of pomp and circumstance, the puck finally dropped to kick of the Flyers season.
The first ten minutes did not exactly demonstrate sound hockey out of the Orange and Black. The Flyers came out somewhat sluggish and the Bruins had all the momentum. The Bruins were able to keep the puck down in the Flyers zone and get shots off (even though all of them were not on net). The ten minute assault the Bruins put on the Flyers was capped off by a Brad Marchand goal to put the Bruins up 1-0. Marchand scored the last goal of the NHL season last year in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals and the first goal of this season.
After the Bruins goal, the Flyers seemed to wake up. The game started to even out over the course of the next nine minutes. With just under a minute to go, Jaromir Jagr found Claude Giroux in the neutral zone. Giroux took the puck, made a very good move to juke Zdeno Chara out of his jock and took the puck in on net and, with another beautiful move, slipped the puck by Tim Thomas as Giroux went tumbling into the net. That tied the game for the Flyers at 1 with just about fifty seconds remaining. The assist was Jagr’s 1,600 career point in the NHL. The Flyers would tally another late goal in the first period. The Flyers were on the rush when, with under three seconds left, Jakub Voracek ripped a wristshot by Bruins goalie Tim Thomas to take a 2-1 lead right before the first intermission.
The next two periods featured complete back and forth action in which both teams registered legitimate goal scoring opportunities. The Flyers ended up walking away with two points and their first win of the year despite some sloppy play. Flyers registered 14 peanlty minutes compared to just ten from the Bruins.
Ilya Bryzgalov played well in his Flyers debut. He had 22 saves on 23 shots. Flyers get back to action on Saturday against the New Jersey Devils in Newark. Game time is set for 7pm.
The Philadelphia Flyers open their season tonight in Boston at the TD Garden. Yes, the Flyers open their season in the same place their season ended against the same team that ended their season last year in the second round of the playoffs. The Bruins swept the Flyers on the way to their first Stanley Cup in 39 years. The Flyers have a completely revamped roster so this Flyers team is completely different than last year’s squad. The biggest addition is the man who will be between the pipes for the Orange and Black, Ilya Bryzgalov. The Bruins are starting Stanley Cup MVP, Tim Thomas in goal tonight.
Bryzgalov (’10-’11: 30-20-10, 2.48 GAA) is making his first start for the Philadelphia Flyers after signing a 9 year, $51 million contract with the team in June.
Thomas (’10-’11: 35-11-9, 2.00 GAA) is coming off a career year which saw him save nearly 94% of pucks fired his way in the regular season. His great year was a catalyst for the Bruins as they ran the table to lift the Cup in June.
The Bruins will raise their championship banner to the rafters tonight. They have the same core this season as they had last year. They lost Mark Recchi (retirement), Michael Ryder (free agency), and Tomas Kaberle (free agency). Outside of that, the team will be made up predominantly of the same guys as last year.
The Flyers on the other hand are completely different. They have added big names (Jagr and Talbot) and subtracted big names (Richards and Carter). The full season preview for the team can be found here. The Flyers look to get the season started off on a good note by beating the defending champions.