As Flyers face Bruins Saturday, the afternoon start raises a timely problem

Posted: March 17, 2012

BOSTON - The Flyers could move a step closer toward a franchise record for road wins in a season on Saturday, but the fact the game is in the afternoon doesn't work to their advantage.

They meet the free-falling Boston Bruins at TD Garden at 1 p.m.

In games that have started between 1 and 3 p.m. this season, the Flyers are 3-8-1.

"Maybe it's because we usually take a nap at 1 o'clock," veteran right winger Jaromir Jagr joked after Friday's practice at Boston University.

Braydon Coburn offered a solution.

"Maybe we have to get that extra cup of coffee," he half-kidded, "or spend an extra five or 10 minutes just thinking about the game."

The Flyers and defending Stanley Cup champion Bruins are going in different directions. The Flyers, led by sizzling goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, have won seven of their last eight. Boston is on a season-worst four-game losing streak.

The Bruins' confidence has dipped.

"I don't think it takes a genius to understand that it's a little rattled right now," Bruins coach Claude Julien told the Boston Globe. "But at the same time, this is the majority of a group that showed resilience last year when we went through some tough times."

The Flyers are 23-12-2 on the road. Since the franchise started in 1967-68, there have been only two seasons - last year (25 wins) and 2002-03 (24) - in which they have had more road victories.

Bryzgalov will be in the nets for the Flyers. He is 7-0 in March, and his shutout streak of 249 minutes, 43 seconds was the second-longest since the NHL expanded in 1967, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

The goalie's streak ended with 6:30 left in Thursday's 3-2 win over the host New York Islanders. Even though the streak is over, Coburn said he expected the defensive intensity to remain. He was asked if he feared a letdown.

"No, not really, because we're playing the Bruins," he said. "They're a big rival with us, and we always have fierce and tough games with these guys."

As for the Flyers' poor record in afternoon games, Coburn said, "We have to find out why it is, whether it's a preparation thing or whatever. To an individual, we have to try to make sure we correct that. Every guy has their own little routine for getting ready for games. Everybody is different. We just have to make sure we're ready."

Winger Wayne Simmonds said, "I think the majority of afternoon games, we've gone down a lot early in the game, and I've said time and time this year, if you get behind in this league, teams just shut it down on you and it's hard to come back. We just have to be prepared mentally."

In their last afternoon game, the Flyers trailed 3:18 into the game en route to a 6-4 loss to visiting Pittsburgh on Feb. 18.

After playing in Boston, the Flyers return home for another afternoon game on Sunday, facing Sidney Crosby and the Penguins, winners of 10 straight. Down the stretch, the Flyers will see a lot of Crosby, who returned from a concussion Thursday and had two assists in a 5-2 win over the Rangers. Three of the Flyers' last 11 games are against the Penguins - and the teams may also meet in the first round of the playoffs.

Breakaways. Claude Giroux is third in the NHL with 82 points, behind just Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin (85) and Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos (84). . . . During their four-game losing streak, Boston's Tim Thomas has posted a 5.73 goals-against average. . . . Bryzgalov has allowed a total of seven goals during his seven-game winning streak. . . . The Flyers are 5-10-1 in games that start before 7 p.m.


Contact Sam Carchidi at scarchidi@phillynews.com or

on Twitter @BroadStBull.

 

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