East Division rivals tangle in what could be a surprising Monday night game. The Boston Bruins (19-10-5) are the significant NHL betting favorites here at -170 on the money line at the sportsbook. The Philadelphia Flyers (17-14-5) will be underdogs at +150, and it can go one of two ways here, and neither favors Philadelphia.
Either the Bruins lay a beatdown like they have in half their games against the Flyers, or the Bruins eke out a one-goal win. The point is: Boston should win barring any miracles from Philadelphia or disasters from Boston. Or both. But Boston should crush here.
Philadelphia Flyers: Giving Fans a Hart Attack
What a crazy season the Philadelphia Flyers have had. There’s no other way to describe it. This team has allowed 4.28 goals per game since the start of March and they’ve been outscored by 30 goals. Yet they’ve still managed to compile a 6-10-2 record.
What’s ironic is how Philadelphia managed to “fix” their defense during this time. The team was allowing the most shots in the division before they had an 11-day break in the middle of February.
Since March, Philadelphia has only allowed 25.7 shots each game. That’s the third-fewest in the league and over three fewer than Boston’s average. It’s too bad both Carter Hart and Brian Elliott fell apart.
Hart took “goalie graveyard” to a new level. His -23.2 goals saved above average is the worst mark by a starting goaltender as is his 33.3 quality start percent. But since his benching, Hart looked decent in his last outing against the Islanders. If he can keep it up, Philly might be decent again.
Boston Bruins: Bear Market
The Boston Bruins haven’t been so hot on their end. If the Philadelphia Flyers have immense goaltending issues, the Bruins have goal-scoring issues. Since March, Boston has the third-worst scoring in the division ahead of only the Devils and Sabres and not by much either.
It’s kept itself together with a 7-5-3 record on the strength of its defense. The Bruins have maintained stout 5-on-5 play and are giving up the fewest scoring opportunities in the division (third-fewest overall).
However, the Bruins’ 6.4% shooting is also the third-worst in the league. And this isn’t a new development. Boston has struggled all year in lighting the lamp. Their 7.2 SH% on high danger chances is the worst mark in the league.
Boston has been dealing with a rash of injuries lately. But it can be concerning to see this team’s lack of overall scoring depth with LW Brad Marchand and RW David Pastrnak already producing at their usual torrid paces. But at some point, Boston has to start burying their shots.
Boston being the favorite per the NHL odds is a given. It has owned Philadelphia during its six games so far. In fact, the Bruins have doubled the Flyers in goals (24-12). On both 5-on-5 and special teams, Boston has Philly beat.
We’ll have to give them goaltending by a wide margin as well even if they’re only averaging an 89.2 SV% against the Flyers. Philadelphia has scored on 58.8% of its power plays. But that’s dropped down to just 20% in their last three games.
The Bruins have also scored on eight of their 16 power plays for a whopping 50% as well. And that doesn’t figure to change much if the Flyers’ goaltending woes continue.
All in all, it’s a matter of how much Boston wins here. If the Flyers’ goaltending holds, I expect Boston to eke out a one-goal win. If they fall apart as they’ve done recently, Boston can run away with this one. Maybe even take a small stab at the Bruins’ puck line of -1½ at +145.