Flyers struggle in loss to Bruins: ‘It was like we were scared to make plays’

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The Philadelphia Flyers found themselves in a decent position late in the third period against the Boston Bruins, but saw at least a single point slip away.

The Flyers, playing on the road in Boston, allowed a late goal from Chris Kelly in a 2-1 loss to open the 2014-15 season on Wednesday. Philadelphia got off to a slow start and managed only 20 shots on goal, but managed to somehow stick around, getting a tying goal from Sean Couturier early in the third period.

Not enough, as it turned out.

The Flyers found themselves under pressure, out-shot in two of the three periods.

Based on the comments of their captain, Claude Giroux, held without a point and just one shot on net, it seemed like they were never really got comfortable in this one.

“The first two periods, it was like we were scared to make plays,” Giroux said, as per the Philadelphia Inquirer.

“I don’t know about the other guys, but I would get the puck and I didn’t get the confidence to make a play . . . I need to relax, play the game.”

Video: Bruins’ Kelly scores winner, still trying to understand Swedish linemates

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Chris Kelly underwent off-season back surgery. Back in the Boston Bruins lineup, he scored the winning goal in a season-opening win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday.

Kelly, who scored only nine times in 57 regular season games for Boston last season, broke the deadlock with 1:51 remaining in the third period to give the Bruins a 2-1 win over the Flyers.

It’s early in the season, and line combinations can change in an instant through an 82-game schedule. But Kelly clearly enjoyed his time on a line with Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson – even if there is a bit of a language barrier.

“I like playing with the Swedes even though half the time I don’t understand them on the bench,” he said after the win, as per Joe McDonald of ESPN Boston.

“I was just excited, like it was my first year again,” Kelly added.

Video: Flyers’ Schenn fights Bruins’ journeyman Robins

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Welcome to the National Hockey League, Bobby Robins.

Robins, who is 32 years old and has never played a game in the NHL, made an early impression for his new team, the Boston Bruins, on Wednesday.

Robins fought Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Luke Schenn just past the midway point of the second period. The two traded punches before going down to the ice.

Quite a start to such a belated NHL career. Apart from working his way up through the American Hockey League, Robins has spent time in such professional hockey hotbeds like Belfast and Austria. Another interesting factoid: he runs his own blog. Not sure how many guys in the NHL can claim the same.

Of course, he got quite the reaction from the Boston faithful. On a night when former Bruin and NHL on NBC analyst Mike Milbury made a call for the NHL to get rid of fighting.

WATCH LIVE: Philadelphia Flyers at Boston Bruins

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The Flyers and Bruins will kick off the 2014-15 NHL campaign tonight at TD Garden, in the first of a Wednesday Night Rivalry doubleheader on NBCSN and the NBC Live Extra stream.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Some useful pregame reading material for tonight’s affair:

Injury to Krejci gives Spooner ‘second chance’ with B’s

Voracek confident he can be an elite player

NHL on NBCSN: Flyers, Bruins open season with plenty to prove

PHT Morning Skate: Berube ranks high on online bookmaker’s coach to be fired first list

Enjoy the game, everybody. Hockey’s back!

NHL on NBCSN: Flyers, Bruins open season with plenty to prove

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NBCSN will begin its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign tonight when the Boston Bruins host the Philadelphia Flyers at TD Garden at 7:30 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

For the Flyers and Bruins, the wait will finally end tonight. After being eliminated in seven games by the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens respectively, both teams are looking to do more despite being prevented from making major upgrades due to the salary cap.

In fact, an argument could be made that Boston and Philadelphia both took a step back over the summer. The Bruins watched 30-goal scorer Jarome Iginla walk away as an unrestricted free agent and recently dealt top-four defenseman Johnny Boychuk in the interest of freeing cap space. On top of that, their points leader in 2013-14, David Krejci, will start the campaign on the injured reserve list due to an undisclosed problem.

That’s a huge gap in their offense compared to 2013-14, but the Bruins are hoping Loui Eriksson can help fill the void. His first season with the Bruins was derailed due to multiple concussions, but after having the summer to regroup, he’ll get a chance to put his past struggles behind him.

At least Krejci might not be out for long; the Philadelphia Flyers haven’t been so fortunate with their players. They have no idea when defenseman Kimmo Timonen (blood clots) will be back or if he will return at all. That’s problematic because while the Bruins have a young core that’s capable of filling the void left by Boychuk, Philadelphia’s defense was a significant question mark even before Timonen’s injury.

“You don’t replace Timonen, a very good defenseman, intelligent,” coach Craig Berube told CSN Philly. “But as a group, they can replace him. Or try to, to a certain extent. They’ve got to all step up and play good. I think our D core, all seven of them that are here (Nick Schultz is the team’s current seventh defenseman), are very capable of getting the job done.”

Michael Del Zotto might help in that regard. He started the 2013-14 campaign as a projected top-four defenseman with the New York Rangers, but fell from grace to the point where the Rangers sent him to Nashville, which didn’t even retain his rights as a restricted free agent. The 24-year-old had to wait until August before he signed with Philadelphia and who knows what his situation would be if Timonen was healthy.

He’s going into this season with a lot to prove, which sums up these two teams nicely. Both would like to demonstrate that they’re as strong as ever despite their summer setbacks. They both want to assert themselves as serious contenders for the Stanley Cup and that battle starts tonight.