Spying on the Saboteur: Philadelphia Flyers vs Boston Bruins

Two days removed from being shut out for the first time this regular season, the quality opponents don’t stop visiting the Wells Fargo Center. Tonight, it’s the Boston Bruins who come to town to face the Philadelphia Flyers. After a heartbreaking loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night, the Flyers gameplan is to increase the offensive pressure. The Bruins are coming off of an overtime win against a tough New York Islanders team. If Philadelphia can be stingy on the penalty kill and take quality shots, they will hang tough with Boston.

After all of the disappointment from the last road trip, the Philadelphia Flyers are only one point out of a playoff spot in the East. Tonight is the 200th game between the Boston Bruins and the Flyers. Last week, Philadelphia defeated the Washington Capitals, who are tied with the Bruins for the President’s Trophy. In the last three meetings, the Flyers have been victorious over Boston. The Bruins have only one regulation loss against Metropolitan Division opponents this season but have lost four of their last six games against Metropolitan Division teams.

Carter Hart is the starting goaltender for the Philadelphia Flyers tonight. Across the pond, he will go head-to-head with the Boston Bruins’ Jaroslav Halak. Over the last ten meetings against each other, the Flyers are split with the Bruins, 5-5. In those three straight wins against Boston, two are beyond regulation. On the injury report, the Bruins lists Connor Clifton (upper body; IR) and Matt Grzelcyk (lower body; game-time decision).

Boston Bruins – Skaters

Offensively, David Pastrnak leads the Boston Bruins in scoring. He is one of two forwards over the 60 point threshold this season for the Bruins. He has almost as many goals on the powerplay as he does during even-strength hockey. Overall, he is scoring on 19.1% of the shots he takes. Pastrnak leads the NHL in goals scored.

Defensively, our attention shifts to Zdeno Chara. Tonight is his 1,000th game in a Boston Bruins sweater, serving as the longest-tenured active captain in the NHL. With a +/- of 16, it’s clear that his defensive pairing serves the Bruins well. He’s contributed thirteen points this season, all during even-strength hockey. Chara has also blocked 70 shots and dished 52 hits this season.

Boston Bruins – Goaltending

Jaroslav Halak has been just as tough to solve in the net as Tuukka Rask. The Boston Bruins practically have two starting goaltenders on their roster. Depth like that is tough to come by and is a recipe for a great NHL team. More than half of Halak’s starts have been quality. He totes a 92.3% save percentage with a goal against average of 2.34.

Faceoff Possession

Both teams have a winning percentage in the faceoff circle that exceeds 50%. The Boston Bruins are at 50.8% while the Philadelphia Flyers maintain 54.6%. On the Bruins, the best faceoff opportunists are Jack Studnicka, Patrice Bergeron, and David Krejci. For the Flyers, they look to Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, and Scott Laughton. The advantage here stays with Philadelphia.

Prediction

Recently, the Philadelphia Flyers have played quality teams very closely. The Boston Bruins are about as quality as it gets, currently sitting atop the NHL. The key difference between the Flyers against the Washington Capitals versus their performance against the Tampa Bay Lightning was that Philadelphia didn’t pressure the goaltender enough against the Lightning. Tonight, that is a requirement if they are going to pull out the upset against the Bruins. Unfortunately, Boston may just be too much to handle at home.

Puck drop is scheduled for 7 pm from the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The money line favors the Boston Bruins at -130 with an over-under set at 5.5. Follow me at EricReesePSN and Philly Sports Network at PhiladelphiaSN on Twitter!

Mandatory Credit – © Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

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