March 27th, 2011 by

Bruins playoff-testing stretch continues tonight in Philly

(Photo: S. Babineau/Getty Images) Tonight would be a good night for Ryder to get off the schnide

The Bruins could start to make their fans forget about yesterday’s 1-0 lackluster shutout loss to the New York Rangers at the TD Garden by showing-up for a full 60-minutes tonight against the Goliaths of the East.

Boston is in the midst of facing four heavy playoff teams over a tough six-day stretch, with tonight being game No. 3 against arguably their fiercest opponent, the Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia Flyers (100 points).

“These last ten for us are as good as preparation as you can get. We’re playing teams that are fighting for playoff spots. We’re playing teams that are at the top of the tables,” said Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference last night after the 1-0 loss. “And then you got teams like Jersey and stuff that are really hot. The hottest teams in the league. So it’s great prep for us. So if we don’t bring our A game, it’s going to be a tough slog in any of the remaining ones.

Tonight, inside the Wells Fargo Center for Game 75 of the season, the B’s have a chance to right the ship and get back on track before the real season begins. In roughly three weeks, 16 teams will be starting their quest for Lord Stanley’s Cup. And for Boston, in order to reach the promiseland this year, there’s a good chance that they’ll have to face Philly in another seven-game series once again.

If we see a Bruins team that shows up for a full 60-minute effort — as we witnessed Thursday night against Montreal  – then they’ll give themselves a legitimate chance in the wide-open East. But if the same black and gold club that we watched yesterday, that forgot to play the first 53-minutes against New York, shows up tonight, then we can brace ourselves for yet another letdown come May.

“We don’t have time to dwell on this one here. You got to turn the page,” said head coach Claude Julien in his post-game press conference last night at the TD Garden. “You win the big game tomorrow in Philadelphia, and you’ve had a pretty tough week against some pretty good hockey clubs. If you can come out of the there 3-1, with the week, it’s been a pretty good week. So that’s what we’ve got to focus on. Let’s turn the page on this one here and hopefully be a better team tomorrow.”

Tim Thomas, who should be in the cage for the B’s tonight, has played exceptionally well against the Flyers this season — posting a 2-0-1 record (one shutout) while stopping 97-of-104 shots for a .933 save-percentage.

Holding a winning season-series record against the Broad Street Bullies, Boston has outscored Philadelphia 11-7 in their three meeting thus far. If there was ever a time for a “statement game”, Boston could do that tonight by winning their final matchup of the regular season, while playing the Boston Bruins hockey that has made them so successful. They can take advantage of a Flyers team without their No. 1 blueliner, and a team that has taken four of their last five contests to the shootout.

While the Bruins may not have the time to dwell on yesterday’s loss, they can use the defeat itself as a tool to remember that the games that really count against tough opponents are just around the corner.

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