3 Keys: Flyers vs. Bruins, round-robin Cup Qualifiers

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Flyers vs. Bruins

3 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVAS

The Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins play the first game of the round-robin portion of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, the Eastern Conference hub city, on Sunday.

Jaroslav Halak will be in goal for the Bruins. No. 1 goalie Tuukka Rask was scheduled to start until being ruled unfit to play after missing practice Saturday because of an illness. Bruins forward Brad Marchand will play after leaving a 4-1 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets in an exhibition game Thursday with 11:40 remaining. The forward appeared to grimace in discomfort while killing a penalty.

The Flyers won two of three games against the Bruins this season, 3-2 in a shootout Nov. 10 and 6-5 in a shootout Jan. 13. The Bruins won 2-0 on March 10 to end Philadelphia’s nine-game winning streak in the final game for each team before the NHL season was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.

The round-robin, which also includes the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Washington Capitals, will set the top four seeds in the East for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Here are 3 keys to the start of the round-robin:

 
1. Halak starts for Bruins

Halak was 18-6-6 with a 2.39 GAA and .919 save percentage in 31 games this season (29 starts). Rask and Halak shared the William M. Jennings Trophy as the goalies for the team that allowed the fewest goals in the NHL this season (167).

Rask, who could return to practice Monday, is a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, awarded to the best goalie in the NHL. He was 26-8-6, led the League with a 2.12 goals-against average, and was second with a .929 save percentage (minimum 20 games).

As part of the NHL Return to Play Plan, a team is not permitted to disclose player injury or illness information.

 
2. Hart in postseason spotlight

Carter Hart has established himself as a No. 1 NHL goalie with the Flyers. The 21-year-old was the youngest in the League to play at least 20 games this season, his 24 wins were tied for ninth, and his 2.42 goals-against average ranked eighth in the NHL (minimum 20 games). 

“He’s shown what he can do, his capabilities,” defenseman Matt Niskanen said. “I think everybody’s real confident and excited to have him back there. Especially the further you go now, you have a talented goalie and he gets hot, that’s a dangerous card to have. We have that potential with Carter.”

 
3. Strength vs. strength

Two of the best all-around centers in the NHL will battle head-to-head when Boston’s Patrice Bergeron and Philadelphia’s Sean Couturier are on the ice. Each plays on his team’s first line, plays hard minutes at 5-on-5 and on special teams, takes the biggest face-offs and is a finalist for the Selke Trophy, awarded to the best defensive forward in the NHL. That battle within the battle could be a determining factor in the game. 

 
Flyers projected lineup

Claude Giroux — Sean Couturier — Jakub Voracek

Scott LaughtonKevin HayesTravis Konecny

James van RiemsdykDerek GrantNicolas Aube-Kubel

Michael RafflNate ThompsonTyler Pitlick

Ivan Provorov — Matt Niskanen

Travis SanheimPhilippe Myers

Robert HaggJustin Braun

Carter Hart

Brian Elliott

Scratched: Andy Andreoff, Connor Bunnaman, Joel Farabee, Morgan Frost, Oskar Lindblom, Mark Friedman, Shayne Gostisbehere, Andy Welinski, Egor Zamula, Alex Lyon, Kirill Ustimenko

Unfit to play: None

 
Bruins projected lineup

Brad Marchand — Patrice Bergeron — David Pastrnak

Jake DeBruskDavid KrejciJack Studnicka

Anders Bjork — Charlie CoyleKarson Kuhlman

Joakim NordstromSean Kuraly — Chris Wagner

Zdeno CharaCharlie McAvoy

Torey KrugBrandon Carlo

Matt GrzelcykJeremy Lauzon

Jaroslav Halak

Dan Vladar

Scratched: Trent Frederic, Par LindholmOndrej Kase, Nick Ritchie Zach Senyshyn, Connor Clifton, John Moore, Urho Vaakanainen, Jakub Zboril, Maxime Lagace

Unfit to play: Tuukka Rask

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