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Tortorella returns, Sandström starts for Flyers as Bruins honor van Riemsdyk ahead of matchup

(Heather Barry Images, LLC)

The Philadelphia Flyers will have their usual bench boss back tonight as they take on the Boston Bruins at TD Garden.

John Tortorella’s club went 1-1-0 while he served his suspension for not leaving the bench after being ejected from Philadelphia’s 7-0 loss to Tampa Bay on March 9th.

“I thought the first two periods, I don’t think we had a lot of bad minutes,” said Tortorella about Thursday’s 6-2 loss to Toronto. “I’ll put it this way, I think we had more good minutes than a lot of people think. I don’t think we managed the game well after that, and with the two bang-to-bang goals where I thought our coverage just sucked.”

Tortorella emphasized on moving forward and putting the last week in the rearview mirror, and he is excited to look ahead to the schedule with plenty of meaningful games coming up as the Flyers continue their playoff push.

“This is why I’m so excited about playing these games, because the other teams are elevating. Especially in this little group of games, these are playoff teams. They know they’re in, and they are working at their game, and it’s a whole different level of where it was three months ago.

“That’s why I’m glad we’re in it. I’m anxious to see, can we can handle that? We have to make some subtle adjustments because of just our back-end as far as how many injuries we have, losing Walks (Sean Walker) and the whole thing. But I don’t want our personality to change as a hockey club and I think it’s a very important time for us, but I am thrilled that we’re in this pocket because we’re still evaluating. So we’ll see where it all goes.”

The Flyers’ banged up defense has not been kind to them at all, and it’s shown in how the team has struggled recently on the penalty kill and how they’ve struggled in front of their goaltenders.

Speaking of goaltenders, Samuel Ersson will get the night off in favor of Felix Sandström. Ersson has started 18 of the Flyers’ last 21 games and is clearly feeling the effects of the grind after a few unimpressive performances, so a night off should do him some good. Sandström’s last start came on March 2nd against Ottawa, in which he stopped 24 shots in a 4-2 victory.

On the other side of the ice, the Bruins are, well, still the Bruins. Boston is 4-2-1 in the month of March and are comfortably in playoff position, sitting just one point shy of Florida for the top spot in the Atlantic Division and the NHL.

Pavel Zacha is currently riding a six-game point streak for the Bruins with five goals and four assists in that stretch, rendering him the hottest Bruin of late. Of course, the usual suspects are still on their A-game as well as David Pastrňák has three goals and two assists in his last four games, and Brad Marchand has a goal and four assists in his last four games.

One Bruin that hasn’t scored much lately will be the man of the hour tonight before the puck drops, however.

James van Riemsdyk, the former Flyer of 578 combined regular season and playoff games, will be honored by the Bruins for reaching the 1,000 regular season games played mark. van Riemsdyk became the 391st player in NHL history to reach the mark on March 5th against Edmonton, but the Bruins waited to celebrate the achievement against the team he has suited up for more than anyone else, a classy gesture by them.

I had the opportunity to ask van Riemsdyk about hitting the 1,000 games milestone in an interview back in January and what the moment would mean to him.

“It’s kind of the fine line of trying to stay in the moment and worry about the day-by-day, but yeah, it is a pretty cool milestone in our game where you get recognized and there’s things like that that are cool,” said van Riemsdyk. “Obviously it’s a long way to get there and it’s a pretty cool milestone to hit. Especially over the last year or so, I’ve hit a couple of pretty cool milestones and it’s kind of crazy to think that here I am fifteen years into my career and almost 1,000 games in and just thinking about that from where you started from is pretty cool.

“I think in any situation like this, especially these longevity ones, you really kind of think to your support system and all the people that supported you along the way, whether that’s your parents, your wife, your kids, your brothers. It’s a lot of people that have helped along the way with stuff like that and I think it helps you keep all that in perspective and how lucky I am to have the support of all those closest to me.”

PHI Record: 34-25-8, 76 pts, 3rd in Metropolitan

BOS Record: 39-14-15, 93 pts, 2nd in Atlantic

When: 7:00pm ET

Where: TD Garden, Boston, MA

Broadcast Info: NBC Sports Philadelphia, 93.3 WMMR

Last Game PHI: 3/14/24, 6-2 L vs. Toronto

Last Game BOS: 3/14/24, 2-1 OTW at Montréal

PHI Goalie: Felix Sandström (1-0-0, .846 SV%, 3.23 GAA, 0 SO)

BOS Goalie: Jeremy Swayman (21-7-8, .920 SV%, 2.49 GAA, 3 SO)

PHI Projected Lineup

#86 Joel Farabee – #21 Scott Laughton – #11 Travis Konecny

#74 Owen Tippett – #48 Morgan Frost – #71 Tyson Foerster

#44 Nicolas Deslauriers – #14 Sean Couturier – #89 Cam Atkinson

#27 Noah Cates – #25 Ryan Poehling – #19 Garnet Hathaway

#8 Cam York – #6 Travis Sanheim

#18 Marc Staal – #23 Ronnie Attard

#5 Egor Zamula – #77 Erik Johnson

#32 Felix Sandström

#33 Samuel Ersson

Scratches: #10 Bobby Brink, #15 Denis Gurianov

Injuries: #9 Jamie Drysdale, #24 Nick Seeler, #55 Rasmus Ristolainen

BOS Projected Lineup

#63 Brad Marchand – #13 Charlie Coyle – #74 Jake DeBrusk

#21 James van Riemsdyk – #18 Pavel Zacha – #88 David Pastrňák

#43 Danton Heinen – #39 Morgan Geekie – #11 Trent Frederic

#19 Johnny Beecher – #70 Jesper Boqvist – #55 Justin Brazeau

#48 Matt Grzelcyk – #73 Charlie McAvoy

#27 Hampus Lindholm – #25 Brandon Carlo

#29 Parker Wotherspoon – #52 Andrew Peeke

#1 Jeremy Swayman

#35 Linus Ullmark

Scratches: #6 Mason Lohrei, #12 Kevin Shattenkirk, #94 Jakub Lauko

Injuries: None

News and Notes

– The Flyers have lost the last six meetings against the Bruins, not having beaten them since October 20th, 2021.

– Philadelphia is 76-107-21-12 all-time against the Bruins and 32-58-11-7 on the road against the Bruins. Since TD Garden opened in 1995, the Flyers are 19-20-4-7 in the building.

– The last time these two teams squared off, the Bruins cruised to a 6-2 victory behind three-point games from David Pastrňák (2g, 1a) and James van Riemsdyk (1g, 2a).

– Felix Sandström has faced the Bruins just once in his career, allowing five goals on 34 shots in a 5-3 loss on April 9th, 2023 in Philadelphia. That game was also the same one in which the Bruins broke the NHL record for most wins in a season.

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Managing Editor at Flyers Nation. Proud lifelong supporter of the Philadelphia Flyers and all things hockey related. Steve Mason's #1 fan.

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