When Marco Sturm(notes) scored in overtime to give Boston a 2-1 win over Philadelphia at Fenway Park on Jan. 1, the Bruins hoped the Winter Classic victory would propel them toward a strong second-half run.
Instead, they’ve continued to struggle with injuries, and they may again be without their top forward and defenseman Thursday as they face the Flyers for the first time since their dramatic outdoor victory.
Philadelphia has surged past the Bruins in the Eastern Conference playoff chase and will be looking for a sixth consecutive home victory.
Boston was 21-12-7 after beating the Flyers at Fenway, and the Bruins figured they could only improve after an injury-riddled start to the season.
Instead, Boston (29-24-12) has gone 8-12-5 since New Year’s Day, including a 10-game losing streak Jan. 16-Feb. 6. Now, the Bruins are dealing with two more key injuries. Forward Marc Savard(notes) and captain Zdeno Chara(notes) both missed Tuesday’s 4-3 overtime loss at Eastern Conference-worst Toronto.
Chara, the reigning Norris Trophy winner, is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. Savard is expected to miss an extended stretch after a hit by Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke(notes) in Boston’s 3-1 loss Sunday left him with a Grade 2 concussion.
Cooke was not suspended.
“This team really needs something good to happen to it,” Bruins coach Claude Julien told his team’s official Web site. “Maybe in these next couple of games, which we know are pretty huge, are going to be things that are going to work in our favor.”
In the midst of a seven-game road trip, the Bruins play their next two at Philadelphia and Montreal, the teams directly ahead of them in the standings. Boston is clinging to eighth place, with several other clubs in close pursuit.
The Flyers (35-26-4) are slightly more comfortable in sixth, and have been one of the NHL’s hottest teams during a 7-1-1 stretch since Feb. 8.
Philadelphia improved to 11-2-0 at home in 2010 with a 3-2 win over the New York Islanders on Tuesday, erasing an early 2-0 deficit.
The team has been excellent on the power play lately, going 10 for 27 (37.0 percent) over the last six games. The Flyers’ two third-period goals against the Islanders both came with the man advantage.
The Bruins boast the NHL’s best penalty kill (86.3 percent), but they also have the league’s worst offense, averaging 2.32 goals per game.
Savard’s absence won’t help against the Flyers, who have allowed two goals or fewer in 11 of their last 13 games. Michael Leighton(notes) is 7-0-1 with a 2.32 goals-against average in his last nine starts as he continues to carry the load in place of injured Ray Emery(notes).
It’s unclear who will be in net for Boston. Tim Thomas(notes), who outdueled Leighton at Fenway, has started the last four games, but Tuukka Rask(notes) has recovered from a groin injury and could return.
Rask helped Boston earn a point at Philadelphia with 36 saves Oct. 22, but Claude Giroux’s(notes) shootout goal gave the Flyers a 4-3 victory and snapped the Bruins’ four-game winning streak at the Wachovia Center.