The Philadelphia Flyers were already in for a significant couple of games against the Boston Bruins in this early-season series. With the relatively easy competition of a Pittsburgh Penguins team that just laid there and took a beating, and a Buffalo Sabres team, that, well, are the Buffalo Sabres, the Flyers had it pretty easy in their first four games of the season.
Now heading to Boston, this would have normally been a glimpse into what Philadelphia can look like against a stronger opponent.
Well, that was before forward Morgan Frost and Philippe Myers left Tuesday night’s game with injuries. Now with two significant young players out of the lineup, the Flyers will debut a new look against their toughest opponents yet—just how wonderful and timely. The Flyers put Frost on IR to create roster room and he will be able to come back into the lineup on Jan. 26 at the earliest. All of this, just after Frost was given a significant role centering a line between red-hot Travis Konency and Oskar Lindblom due to Sean Couturier’s injury. If you have a heart, you have to feel for him.
There’s still no real signifiers what the new lineup without Myers and Frost will look like, but we at least know that Mark Friedman will make his season debut, if Myers is deemed unfit. Even with Frost off the roster, Philadelphia is carrying 13 forwards after calling up Connor Bunnaman on Monday. Maybe Claude Giroux goes back to playing center for a little bit? Maybe everything stays the same and Scott Laughton moves up to the third line with Bunnaman coming in as the fourth center? We might not know until they hit the ice at TD Garden.
The Bruins are facing their own identity crisis after a departing Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara were swept off the blue line with no replacements queued this off-season. Especially with David Pastrnak still out long-term after going under the knife to repair a hip injury. His initial timeline saw him coming back in the middle of February, but we shall see. Importantly, he’s not playing tonight so it makes the Flyers’ job a little bit easier.
So far, Boston’s record is an evenly spread 1-1-1, while sitting sixth in the division, crying out David’s name to come and rescue them out of the dark mediocrity. It’s a scary world out there, and for Bruins fans that haven’t known the depths of the standings for a while, this might be the year they get a little taste of it.
In between the pipes, Carter Hart will likely take the reins back from Brian Elliott after he was able to successfully pull off an outstanding 40-save shutout win against the Sabres on Tuesday. As for the Bruins, Tuukka Rask will be back in action after letting just one squeaker of a goal against the New York Islanders in a 1-0 loss.
While the Flyers have been able to show some careless defense and getting away with some stellar goaltending and capable offense, the Bruins have basically been the exact opposite. So I can’t wait to see what the hell is going to happen tonight.
Two Big Questions
1. How will the Flyers powerplay look?
At times against the Buffalo Sabres, the Flyers seemed to look, well, like complete garbage, and some statistics back up the eye test. Sitting towards the bottom the league at 28th, the Flyers’ 4.21 xGF/60 on the man advantage is a far cry away from what some of their results are showing. They look like shit but they’re able to still get some goals, as their 21.29 shooting percentage is carrying their power play to different heights. Ride the wave, baby.
2. Are they going to get out-shot again?
Although the magic dust of small sample size explanations is covering every single trend you try to analyze, the Flyers getting out-shot in every single game so far isn’t the best plan to try and win games long-term. They can always keep on riding the PDO train all the way to a postseason spot and roll the dice to see if those percentages can stay steady enough to win a couple games, but that will be a hard prediction for even the most bold to accept.
Luckily for them, Boston’s defense hasn’t really been the same without Krug and Chara in their positions this season. Overall, the Bruins have a very well-developed system that can limit scoring chances, as they are currently limiting oppositions to an average of 23.3 shots on goal per game, placing them comfortably in that second spot in the league. Meanwhile, the Flyers are the second-worst in that category, allowing an average of 36 shots on goal per game.
This might be a bad game to watch, or the rosy-cheeked boy in the Flyers’ goal will save the team once again.
Dan Ryan of Stanley Cup of Chowder joined us for a little pregame chat about the state of the Bruins, their key injuries, how the Flyers can take advantage of them, and the ways in which Bruins fans are just Flyers fans with a worse accent.