James O'Brien

I am a contributing editor/writer/troublemaker for NBC's Pro Hockey Talk blog.

Remember these mistakes if Flyers fall short of a playoff berth

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If tonight’s Red Wings – Bruins and Maple Leafs – Flyers games continue down their current paths, Thursday could stand as a night of serious regret for the Philadelphia Flyers.

It’s bad enough that the Boston Bruins are off to a strong start. As sporadically scrappy as the Toronto Maple Leafs may be, the Flyers could really kick themselves if they fail to erase what is a 3-1 deficit heading into the third period.

It probably stings a little extra that they may also look back at some gaffes on two or more of the Buds’ goals.

Arguably the worst came in the video above, but this tally wasn’t pretty for the Flyers, either:

You can see it in that video, but it’s possible that William Nylander‘s goal might be in part based on a mistake by Claude Giroux … and really all three Leafs goals present issues:

The Flyers still have time to fix things, whether it means storming back tonight or hoping they get the right breaks to close things out.

Anders Lee suffers lower-body injury, won’t return for Islanders tonight

AP
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It must be getting more and more tempting for NHL coaches to put out skeleton crews full of AHL players with mere games remaining in the regular season.

Injuries really sting with the playoffs looming, and the New York Islanders have to cross their fingers that Anders Lee‘s lower-body injury isn’t too significant.

It’s at least serious enough to keep him out of the rest of Thursday’s game against the New York Rangers, as the Isles announced.

The Islanders only detail it as a lower-body injury, but it sounds like it might be related to his left leg. He may have been hurt by a Johnny Boychuk shot:

Update: Not a great opening set of outlooks, although nothing is set in stone.

Video: Marchand, Pastrnak power Bruins to strong start

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The Boston Bruins seemed to sleepwalk into a big game against the Chicago Blackhawks before a too-little, too-late rally this past weekend. That doesn’t appear to be an issue on Thursday, however.

Instead, the Bruins fired off two early goals in what is an enormous game against the Detroit Red Wings.

First, David Pastrnak burned Mike Green and scored the 1-0 goal (which survived an offside review), which you can watch in the video above.

About a minute later, Brad Marchand buried a nice Torey Krug pass to make it 2-0. Marchand now has 37 goals:

Before Red Wings fans slam Jimmy Howard, he did make a significant save on a Marchand shorthanded change later on in the first. That might be the kind of stop that looms large if Detroit can get back in this.

Meanwhile, the Toronto Maple Leafs opened up an early 1-0 lead against the Philadelphia Flyers, so tonight at least started off in a promising way for the Bruins.

Of course, the night is young, so plenty of things can change …

WATCH LIVE: Huge game as Boston Bruins host Detroit Red Wings

AP

This game isn’t for all the marbles … but it’s for a lot of them. Or maybe for some really important ones?

Anyway, NBCSN carries quite a treat/nerve-wracking game, depending upon who’s watching.

It’s a key game for the Detroit Red Wings, who can clinch a 25th consecutive playoff berth if they beat the Boston Bruins a night after grabbing a crucial win against the Philadelphia Flyers.

This is even more important for the Bruins, as a loss to the Red Wings wouldn’t technically boot Boston from the playoffs … but it would make for some pretty scary odds for the B’s.

It all shapes up to be a captivating matchup with significant playoff implications, so tune in on NBCSN and stream it online via the link below.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

NHL on NBCSN: Huge playoff implications as Red Wings host Flyers

AP
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It’s been clear for some time, but Tuesday made it official: the Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings and Philadelphia Flyers will battle it out for the East’s two remaining playoff spots.

With that in mind, plenty of eyeballs will be on NBCSN as the Red Wings host the Flyers, including those of the Bruins.

As of right now, the Flyers and Red Wings stand above the Bruins because of tiebreaker advantages, yet all three teams are obviously close at 91 standings points. More than anything else, you can safely wager that Boston wants this game to end in regulation.

Here’s a look at the East standings, or at least the portion relevant to these teams:

eastwildapr5
via NHL.com

If that isn’t thrilling enough, consider how much control the Red Wings hold over this race. Detroit isn’t only facing Philly tonight, they’re also taking on the Bruins on Thursday.

As the above graphic shows, the Flyers hold a significant edge in games in hand with four games remaining, but they’ll need to earn it. They finish the season with a daunting set of four games in five days, with two back-to-back sets.

Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol probably says it best: “We’re in work mode.”

Really, there’s not much separating the Bruins, Flyers or Red Wings. It really might come down to which team works the hardest (and/or works “the smartest”).

It all makes for fascinating viewing on NBCSN tonight.