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Flyers renew acquaintances with Bruins in matinee

by Brian Hunter

BRUINS (31-15-3) at FLYERS (25-21-6)


Last 10: Boston 5-4-1; Philadelphia 4-4-2

Season series: This is the first of three games between the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers. The Bruins won the opener of the 2012-13 series at TD Garden before the Flyers came back with a pair of wins at Wells Fargo Center. Goalie Steve Mason made 39 saves in a 5-2 win for Philadelphia on April 23, the most recent time these teams faced off.

Big story: Mason and his brand-new zombie mask are expected to stare down the Bruins in this Saturday matinee as the Flyers try to stem the tide following three straight losses that have seen them slip to fourth place in the Metropolitan Division. Boston enters the day tied atop the Atlantic with the Tampa Bay Lightning, though the Bruins hold a pair of games in hand.

Team Scope:

Bruins: Four days between games provided Boston with plenty of practice time, and a couple of injured players were able to skate and could return to the lineup soon. Forward Chris Kelly, out since Dec. 7 with a broken fibula, will come on the two-game road trip that concludes Monday at the New York Islanders. Kelly and defenseman Dougie Hamilton, who has missed the past four games with a concussion, have been cleared to play, according to coach Claude Julien.

"[We're] slowly getting back to our regular lineup, I guess, and I think right now our guys are really focused on our team as it is, and just going out there every game, competing," Julien said.

"And if those guys come back, it's great. And if not, then we've just got to keep doing the job we've been doing there in the last three games [a 2-0-1 stretch]."

Flyers: Relatively healthy for this point in the season, Philadelphia is hoping it dodged a bullet with forward Jakub Voracek, who suffered an apparent hand injury Monday against the Islanders. He appeared doubtful to play the following night against the Carolina Hurricanes, but when snow pushed the game back a day Voracek was able to go. He was in again for a 5-2 loss Thursday at the Columbus Blue Jackets, though he only saw 14:58 of ice time, well below his season average. Voracek was among several Flyers regulars who didn't practice Friday.

The schedule prior to the Olympic break is tough, starting with Boston and featuring a Pacific Division road trip as part of six straight games against Western Conference teams, but captain Claude Giroux looks forward to it.

"To play those tough teams is a challenge for us," he said in the Philadelphia Inquirer. "I love it. That's when you find out what kind of team you are, what kind of character you have."

Who's hot: Bruins forward Brad Marchand has consecutive two-goal games and six goals in his past four games. Linemate Patrice Bergeron has two goals and five assists during a four-game point streak. … Flyers forward Brayden Schenn had his career-high 14th goal and a team-leading five shots Thursday.

Injury report: Kelly and Hamilton are on the mend, but the status of Boston defenseman Adam McQuaid (leg) is less certain. He missed the game Monday and remains day-to-day. … Philadelphia forward Zac Rinaldo (ankle) skated Friday but remains on injured reserve.

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