In a matchup of the Eastern Conference's top two teams, the Flyers' seven-game winning streak - their longest since 2002 - will be in jeopardy when they host the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins in a Saturday matinee.
"Obviously, they're a great team," said Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, who has won six straight and is expected to face the Bruins after getting a night off on Thursday. "They play aggressive; they have good lines from top to the bottom. It's a big challenge for us."
"Also, I think it's going to be a big challenge for Boston. It's a big game. The last couple of seasons, the teams played [each other] in the playoffs, and I think you can count it as a rivalry, too."
This is the first time the teams have met since the Flyers, who lead the NHL in scoring, opened the season with a 2-1 win in Boston on Oct. 6.
The Bruins (20-9-1), who trail the first-place Flyers (20-7-3) by two points in the East and have allowed the fewest goals in the league, began the season 3-7; they have since gone 17-2-1 in their last 20 games.
Flyers coach Peter Laviolette offered this assessment of the Bruins: "Good goaltending, good defense, four [strong] lines. They play fast, play physical. We've got to come out and play our game as well. We feel like we've been doing the right things to win hockey games. It should be a great game."
Centers Claude Giroux and Brayden Schenn continue to recover from concussions, and there is no timetable for their returns.
The first step toward recovering and getting back into the lineup, general manager Paul Holmgren said, is to have back-to-back days without concussion symptoms.
Since Giroux was injured against Tampa Bay last Saturday, "he has felt good at times, but there's other times, in his words, 'I just don't feel right,' " Holmgren said. "So until he feels right for a whole day and we get to the next day and he feels good another day, it is what it is."
Schenn went through a full practice Wednesday in Montreal and said he did not have concussion symptoms. But he did not take part in Friday's optional skate. "That's probably not good," Holmgren said.
Many Flyers visited patients at Virtua Hospital in Voorhees on Friday. . . . For the first time, Holmgren confirmed that winger Matt Read had a concussion earlier this season. He missed three games. . . . Bryzgalov said he hasn't seen HBO's 24/7, but he is taking some good-natured ribbing about his starring role in the first episode. "Guys are making fun of me a little bit," he said. . . . Defenseman Andreas Lilja, recovering from a high-ankle sprain, was loaned to the Phantoms on a conditioning assignment. . . . Twelve Flyers participated in Friday's optional skate.
- Sam Carchidi