The last time the Flyers played a hockey game that counted was March 10 against the Bruins.
For the first time in 145 days since then, the Flyers will take the ice in a meaningful hockey game.
And what do you know, it's against those NHL-best Bruins.
The fourth-seeded Flyers kick off what they hope is a prosperous run in the NHL's return-to-play 24-team tournament as they open their three-game round-robin slate Sunday against top-seeded Boston.
For more on the Flyers' round-robin outlook, click here.
Let's get into the essentials for today's game below:
• As always, keep an eye on that Flyers depth. It truly is the backbone of this 2019-20 team, which is arguably the NHL's most improved club from last season.
If the Flyers are to beat the Bruins, perform well throughout the round robin and make noise in the playoffs, they'll need the efforts from top to bottom.
Balance is a critical ingredient to the effectiveness of head coach Alain Vigneault's system. For the most part, the Flyers got it during the regular season, which made the club's core pieces better.
"I think every night we have a line or one guy that steps up and gets the big goal or gets the great play defensively," Claude Giroux said Friday in a video interview. "I think we're confident whoever's on the ice, line-matching and all that kind of stuff, we're pretty comfortable with everybody in the lineup. When you feel like that, your confidence goes higher and you focus on your own job and it just makes your job a lot easier."
Specifically in the club's two wins over the Bruins, Philippe Myers had a big goal, six hits and a plus-2 rating during the 3-2 shootout decision on Nov. 10 in Boston, while Travis Sanheim put up a two-goal performance with five shots through 25:32 minutes in the 6-5 shootout decision Jan. 13 at the Wells Fargo Center.
Defensive stalwarts Ivan Provorov and Matt Niskanen both went scoreless and were a combined minus-4 during the three-game regular-season series with the Bruins. But that wasn't a huge problem because the Flyers' secondary pieces have improved.
He's such an important player," Flyers assistant coach Michel Therrien said about Couturier last Saturday. "He's got a big role obviously on our team. For me, what's important for a hockey player is the hockey IQ and he's right there, that's why he's playing against top players, game in and game out - it's demanding. Regarding the rest of the league and the rest of the players, you've got guys like Patrice Bergeron that could be a role model. But you know what, Sean Couturier's right there with him. It's a luxury for us to have a player like that on our team.
The Flyers held David Pastrnak to 2 points (one goal, one assist) in 3 games this regular season.— Jordan Hall (@JHallNBCS) July 30, 2020
Pastrnak was at least a point per game player against 25 of 30 teams he faced this season.
Flyers open round robin vs. Bruins Sunday.
(📷 by @gmcphoto) pic.twitter.com/d9h3xxel7T
• Carter Hart will start for the Flyers. The 21-year-old goalie has four career wins over the Bruins, tied for his most against any NHL club.
Hart is 4-1-0 with a 2.71 goals-against average and .910 save percentage in five lifetime matchups vs. Boston.
The Bruins will be without Vezina Trophy finalist Tuukka Rask (unfit to play), but that does not mean the Flyers have a picnic Sunday.
Careers vs. Flyers:— Jordan Hall (@JHallNBCS) August 2, 2020
• Tuukka Rask - 15-2-4, 1.94 goals-against average, .934 save percentage, 3 shutouts in 22 games
• Jaroslav Halak - 10-6-3, 2.47 goals-against average, .914 save percentage, 3 shutouts in 19 games
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
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