Spying on the Saboteur: Can the Flyers beat the Bruins on Lake Tahoe?

The Philadelphia Flyers are 0-2-2 versus the Boston Bruins in 2020-2021. They’ll look to change their fortune tonight at Lake Tahoe.

In each of their four previous meetings this season, the Boston Bruins earned the win. Two of the four victories took place in overtime. The goaltender for the Philadelphia Flyers in those overtime losses was Carter Hart. During the last series versus the Bruins, the Flyers lost both games by one goal. Boston has Philadelphia’s number, but the margin is slimmer than the record shows.

On top of the Mass Mutual Eastern Division, the Bruins separate from the Flyers by three points. Tonight, the pressure rests squarely on Philadelphia. If Boston takes a loss, they still hang on to first place in the Eastern Division. The Flyers are in a four-way tie for second place (Capitals, Penguins, Islanders.) Philadelphia is fighting to remain in the playoff picture.

Boston Bruins – Forward Spotlight

David Krejci, who suffered a lower-body injury versus the New Jersey Devils, will not play. He and Ondrej Kase are the only forwards not participating in Lake Tahoe. Aside from the Bruins first line (Marchand, Bergeron, and Pastrnak), Nick Ritchie commands attention. He recorded an assist on the powerplay versus the Devils. Against the Flyers in 2020-2021, Ritchie has five points (1G, 4A) and a minus-two rating.

Philadelphia has a 29th ranked (71.4%) penalty kill. Boston has scored seven powerplay goals against the Flyers in 2020-2021. The Bruins’ sixth-ranked (29.8%) powerplay has been the bane of Philadelphia’s existence. Against the New York Rangers, the Flyers did not play a disciplined game. They cannot afford to spend time in the penalty box tonight.

Boston Bruins – Defense Spotlight

Charlie McAvoy is one of the best defensemen in the NHL. With five starting forwards in quarantine, Boston’s defense will smother Philadelphia. Over four games, the Flyers average 23 shots on goal against the Bruins. Last time out, Philadelphia totaled 22 shots against a generally bad Rangers defense.

McAvoy resides on Boston’s first powerplay unit. He has contributed in every scenario towards the Bruins’ success. Blocking shots has been a strength of McAvoy’s game against the Flyers. Combining his powerplay prowess and an ability to get in the way of shooting lanes versus Philadelphia, McAvoy could have a quality performance at Lake Tahoe.

Boston Bruins – Goaltending Spotlight

Tuukka Rask will start across from Carter Hart. Rask has had more than a week off, losing to the Rangers in his last start. This season, he’s averaged 2.51 goals allowed per game while toting a 90.6% save percentage. On paper, Rask has the advantage over Hart.

The Flyers have experienced success versus Rask in 2020-2021. In three starts, Rask has recorded a save percentage under 90% twice. Philadelphia has forced overtime twice when Rask occupies the crease. To experience the same success, the Flyers’ top-six forwards need to carry the team once again.

Flyers Phlight Deck

JvR the Outdoorsman

James van Riemsdyk has played more outdoor games than any NHL team. When the puck drops in Lake Tahoe, van Riemsdyk will participate in his seventh outdoor game. Previously, he has played in three with the Toronto Maple Leafs and as many with Philadelphia. In six outdoor games, van Riemsdyk is 3-2-1 throughout his career. In a wild setting such as Lake Tahoe, having van Riemsdyk on the roster offers an advantage.

Spreading Wisdom

Flyers fans are right to feel excited about Zayde Wisdom. Last night, he had two goals against the Binghamton Devils on the way to first star honors. Chuck Fletcher selected Wisdom because he uses his gritty style of play to create offense. Through four games with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, Wisdom has four goals. Only Seth Jarvis, Vinni Lettieri, and Rem Pitlick have scored more than Wisdom.

If Andy Andreoff performs as he did against the Rangers, Wisdom may receive a call. Andreoff is an NHL journeyman who has played fifteen career games in Philadelphia. Fletcher has to have his finger on the pulse of Wisdom, ready to provide a jolt to a thin lineup. Leaving Wisdom in the AHL to develop is ideal under normal circumstances. During pandemic hockey with taxi-squads, calling Wisdom to the taxi squad or the Flyers roster may be the correct move.

Flyers Prediction

It is tough to find an angle where Philadelphia is victorious in Lake Tahoe. Owning an 0-2-2 record versus Boston in 2020-2021 with their usual lineup doesn’t bode well for the current one. The Flyers will rely heavily on Hart, who has struggled against the Bruins. On the outdoor ice, Boston earns a 5-2 victory.