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 Laughton — Kevin Hayes — Travis Konecny
James van Riemsdyk — Derek Grant — Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Michael Raffl — Nate Thompson — Tyler Pitlick
Ivan Provorov — Matt Niskanen
Travis Sanheim — Philippe Myers
Robert Hagg — Justin Braun
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 DeBrusk — David Krejci — Jack Studnicka
Anders Bjork — Charlie Coyle — Karson Kuhlman
Joakim Nordstrom — Sean Kuraly — Chris Wagner
Zdeno Chara — Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug — Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk — Jeremy Lauzon
Scratched: Trent Frederic, Par Lindholm, Ondrej Kase, Nick Ritchie Zach Senyshyn, Connor Clifton, John Moore, Urho Vaakanainen, Jakub Zboril, Maxime Lagace
Unfit to play: Tuukka Rask