Flyers aim to ignite playoff hopes vs. Bruins

NHL Hockey

The Philadelphia Flyers bid to keep their diminishing playoff hopes alive when they host the Boston Bruins on Saturday afternoon.

The Flyers, who have dropped two in a row, are now six points out of a playoff spot in the East Division. They picked up one point but fell 3-2 in a shootout on the road against the New York Islanders on Thursday.

Philadelphia is 7-11-3 since March 2.

“It is frustrating. You just have to find a way to win those games,” Jakub Voracek said after the shootout loss. “You get four or five wins in a row, you’re right in the mix. That’s the mindset we have right now. We have to start Saturday. You have to believe.”

The Flyers still have 17 games remaining, two less than the Bruins. But the Bruins sit six points ahead of the Flyers in the playoff race.

“We’re playing some good hockey,” Flyers’ defenseman Travis Sanheim said. “Obviously, you want different results. You can get frustrated over that, but we really don’t have time for that. We have some big games coming up. We’ve got to find a way to win hockey games. You can’t look at the negatives right now.”

Goaltender Carter Hart, who has been inconsistent all season, stopped 21 shots against the Islanders in regulation and overtime as well as four of five attempts in the shootout.

Yet Hart has lost his last six starts.

If the Flyers hope to work their way back into the playoff chase, Hart and Brian Elliott must elevate their level of play.

“I just came to practice every day,” Hart said of a recent benching. “Not pouting. Just having fun with the boys. Competing and battling. Just showing up to work every day with my hard hat and lunch pail, you know?”

The Bruins will be looking for their third straight victory.

In their most recent game, they defeated the Capitals 4-2 at Washington on Thursday. Brad Marchand’s clutch short-handed goal was crucial in lifting the Bruins to a win and strengthening their points lead over the Flyers.

“This is a big week for our team,” Marchand said. “We’re playing Washington, we’re playing Philly. One team we’re trying to catch and another team we’re trying to stay ahead. It’s crunch time. We have to continue to separate from teams below and we have to build toward playoffs, regardless of who’s in or out of the lineup every night. We have a goal, and it’s progression.

“We don’t need to be great at the start of the year, it’s how you finish, and I think we’re building and getting better at the right time.”

The Bruins’ playoff push has been anchored by a surprising rookie — goaltender Jeremy Swayman. With Tuukka Rask nicked up and Jaroslav Halak sidelined on the virus list, Swayman has stepped up to save 71 of 75 shots in the last two games, both wins.

“I’m just enjoying every second I can, while I can,” Swayman said.

It’s doubtful that defenseman Charlie McAvoy will face the Flyers. He has missed the last two games with an upper-body injury.

“He’s feeling better back in Boston,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said of McAvoy. “Saturday is probably out of the question now that he’s back there. I don’t think we’d bring him back on the road for one game.”

–Field Level Media

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