The Boston Bruins are back to take on the Philadelphia Flyers in their second matchup of the season series. After taking the first matchup by a score of 6-3, the Flyers want to take a stranglehold on the season series and make up for the bummer of a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Even though the Bruins are sitting fifth in the Atlantic Division at 8-5-0, they have only played a total of 13 games. It’s a small amount relative to the rest of the league, and they’re coming off of a week-long break after previously playing the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday.
The Bruins are on a two-game win streak after beating the New Jersey Devils and the previously-mentioned Canadiens, and they’re looking to extend that coming into Philadelphia.
At 5-on-5, per Evolving-Hockey, the Bruins are the best team in the NHL by Expected Goals for percentage (xGF%) at 56.29 percent. Their Goals For percentage (GF%) is the problem, as it is sitting at 46.03 percent. That number is 25th in the NHL. With a top line like theirs, it’s hard to believe that they haven’t scored as many goals.
Players to watch
The trio of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak threatens every team that steps on the ice opposite of them. They’re a combination of some of the best players in the entire NHL. Bergeron is an elite two-way center that takes his defensive responsibilities very seriously. He barely makes any mistakes, and it’s hard to gain an advantage over him because of how well he thinks the game.
Marchand is the same way, but he’s a far more prolific scorer than Bergeron is. He’s a tremendous two-way presence, and he’s arguably the best player on that entire line. He’s fifth in terms of point-scoring from 2018-21 behind names like Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Patrick Kane, and Nathan MacKinnon. We can’t mention him without talking about his attitude when on the ice. Everyone is well-aware of his past problems with players and his antics. Although he has appeared to tone it down, there’s still always a chance that something happens. He’s a character, but he gets the job done.
Finally, we get to the Czech winger Pastrnak. One of the most prolific goal scorers in the entire NHL is at a point per game in 2021-22. He sits fifth in goals with 106 from 2018-21 behind Auston Matthews, Draisaitl, Alex Ovechkin, and McDavid. Not only does he have a cannon of a shot, but his ability to create plays can go underrated at some points. He can control the pace of play, and his ability in the defensive zone is actually above-average. For someone that is excellent at contributing in the offensive zone, he’s much better than many would think on his end.
These three combined are always a problem when they take the ice, and the Flyers need to watch out at all times.
The Flyers are coming off of an excellent two-period showing against one of the best teams in the NHL. Even though they lost in the shootout, they did look like a speedy team. Even though their second period was iffy, they managed to come out with a point. It’s far more important later in the season than it may seem right now. The Flyers have a total record of 8-4-3 in 15 games which is good for 19 points and fourth in the Metropolitan Division. Their points percentage is 13th in the NHL.
Claude Giroux leads the team in points with 14 points in 15 games, and Sean Couturier closely follows him with 13 points in 15 games. Both of them have been critical contributors to the Flyers’ early-season success, and with Kevin Hayes out for another game, they need to continue to step up their performances in every game.
So far, the goaltending tandem has been excellent, with great showings from Hart outside of one goal that squeaked through against the Lightning. It’s been an excellent service to an offense that may start to regress very soon and has shown signs of that happening in recent games. No matter which goalie is in the net, Flyers fans can be confident. In a game against a team with the scoring potential of the Bruins, it will serve them well.
Tonight, the goaltending is going to have to step up big time, but they’re also going to need to have some help. The defense has slowly looked better. There was a lot to like about it against the Lightning, but their expected goals against per 60 (xGA/60) as a team is 30th in the NHL. It’s a problem that needs to be fixed if they’re going not to be scoring at an insanely high rate. This team can be extremely good with the combination of high-powered offense and strong goaltending. There are things to work on, but a second win against the Bruins could do wonders for team confidence.
Joel Farabee - Sean Couturier - James van Riemsdyk
Claude Giroux - Derick Brassard - Cam Atkinson
Oskar Lindblom - Scott Laughton - Travis Konecny
Max Willman - Nate Thopmson - Zack MacEwen
Ivan Provorov - Justin Braun
Travis Sanheim - Rasmus Ristolainen
Keith Yandle - Nick Seeler
One thing to watch
With the Flyers allowing as many high-danger chances as the numbers suggest, I’m interested to see what they can do against a team like the Bruins, who have a very high-powered offense that understands how to get to the middle of the ice. They are strong in transition, and they know where to put the puck in the open space.
The defense is going to have to play exceptionally well for 60 minutes. We all know what the top line can do, but members of the Bruins’ depth are also threatening. Former Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall is not someone the Flyers should take lightly, and Charlie Coyle has been putting up just as many points. They’re solid backup options that can move the puck well and create space. Lapses in the defensive zone need to be few and far between. The Flyers can win the game, but for that to happen, the goaltending needs to step up as it has been, and the defense needs to provide support.
Enjoy the game! Go Flyers!