BOSTON – The last time the Philadelphia Flyers met the Boston Bruins in the playoffs, it was a matchup between two physical teams — the Broad Street Bullies vs. the Big Bad Bruins.

Now, 32 years later, both sides expect another hard-hitting series when the Eastern Conference semifinals start today. The team that does a better job of checking hard but staying out of the penalty box could have an edge.

It all comes down to being disciplined.

“I think it’s important in any series, but I think they get a lot of momentum after power plays,” Flyers captain Mike Richards said. The Bruins have “a great power play and, like I said before, it wears the bodies down if you keep taking penalties, and keep having the same guys out there killing (them) and blocking shots.”

The teams last met in the playoffs in the 1978 Stanley Cup semifinals. That Bruins team had four players with at least 116 penalty minutes in the regular season. The Flyers had five with at least 119 each.

This season, Philadelphia had four players with at least 126 minutes, while the Bruins had just one — Shawn Thornton — with more than 100. But Boston flexed its muscles during its first-round series against the Buffalo Sabres.

“You have to play physical,” Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference said, “but you can’t cross that line of stupidity, and we can’t be so naive as to think they’re going to do that either. The stakes are the same for both teams.”

It also will be a series of contrasting goaltenders.

Boston’s Tuukka Rask, a 23-year-old playoff rookie, led the NHL this season with a 1.97 goals-against average. Philadelphia’s Brian Boucher is a 33-year-old journeyman who played in just 33 games this season and had a 9-18 record. But both were outstanding in the first round, with Boucher allowing just eight goals in five games against New Jersey.


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