GAME: Boston Bruins (29-14-11-6) at Philadelphia Flyers (31-14-11-5).
TIME: Thursday, 8 p.m. EST.
The Boston Bruins have proven they are for real. Sean Burke and the
Philadelphia Flyers are suddenly looking as if they might not be.
Boston tries to record at least one point for an 11th consecutive game as it
takes on a Philadelphia team hoping to avoid a third straight lopsided loss to
one of the NHL's top clubs.
With just three regulation losses in 22 games (15-3-2-2) since the calendar
turned to 2004, the Bruins have climbed within three points of the Flyers for
the Eastern Conference's best record. Their solid play in the New Year,
including a 7-0-1-2 mark in the last three weeks, has lifted Boston within one
point of Ottawa and Toronto for the Northeast Division lead.
"I don't think we're surprising anyone anymore. The league knows we're
playing well," said captain Joe Thornton, who had a goal in the Bruins' 5-2
win at Toronto on Tuesday.
While Thornton has five goals and eight assists in seven games this month,
Glen Murray has 12 goals and five assists in the last 13 games.
Goalie Andrew Raycroft has done his part, going 6-0-1 with a 1.55
goals-against average in his last seven starts.
Burke, meanwhile, has been struggling in net since getting off to a good
start for Philadelphia after being acquired from Phoenix. The 37-year-old
netminder won his first two starts following the trade, allowing three goals,
but has given up five goals in each of the last two.
Those outings both came against division leaders and ended in 5-2 losses -
to San Jose and Tampa Bay, respectively. The Flyers had won their previous five
straight, surrendering a total of just six goals.
"We've really had two games in a row where the other teams' forwards have
been more dominant than ours," Philadelphia coach Ken Hitchcock said.
"They've been able to outwork us."
Hitchcock could be missing up to four key forwards for this contest.
Jeremy Roenick and Keith Primeau have missed the last three games. Roenick
may miss the rest of the regular season due to a broken jaw and the team
remains uncertain when Primeau will return from his latest concussion.
Philadelphia also could be without its top two enforcers. Donald Brashear
sat out Tuesday with a left knee sprain and Todd Fedoruk left in the second
period with a knee injury.
STANDINGS: Bruins - 75 points, 3rd place, 1 PB, Northeast Division. Flyers -
78 points, 1st place, Atlantic Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Bruins - Murray, 24 goals; Thornton, 42 assists and 58 points;
Doug Doull, 103 PIM. Flyers - Mark Recchi, 22 goals, 34 assists and 56 points;
Brashear, 131 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through Feb. 17): Bruins - Power play: 16.1 percent (36 for
224), 14th in NHL. Penalty killing: 83.3 percent (205 for 246), 20th. Flyers -
Power play: 22.5 percent (53 for 236), 3rd. Penalty killing: 85.0 percent (227
for 267), 12th.
GOALTENDERS: Bruins - Raycroft (21-13-6, 3 SO, 1.92 GAA); Felix Potvin
(8-7-5, 3, 2.76). Flyers - Burke (12-17-5, 1, 2.86); Antero Niittymaki (3-0-0,
SEASON SERIES: Flyers, 1-0-1.
LAST MEETING: Dec. 6; Tie, 1-1, OT. At Boston, Recchi scored the tying goal
in the second period and the since-retired Jeff Hackett made 38 saves for the
Flyers. Raycroft stopped 22 shots and Sergei Samsonov scored for the Bruins.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Bruins - 17-6-4-5 on the road; Flyers - 18-6-2-3 at home.