Spying on the Saboteur: Philadelphia Flyers vs Boston Bruins

After sinking the Boston Bruins in overtime, the Philadelphia Flyers hope to keep their momentum rolling on home ice.

Last night’s win is a start in the right direction, but the Philadelphia Flyers aren’t out of the woods yet. The Boston Bruins were able to salvage a point, forcing overtime. They’re doing their darndest to make the Flyers’ postseason push more difficult.

Defeating the Bruins for the first time is a grand accomplishment for Philadelphia. In the process of doing so, the Flyers occupied space in Brad Marchand’s head without paying rent.

Travis Sanheim had two scoring opportunities in overtime, converting on his second for the game-winner.

As the 2020-2021 NHL season approaches the trade deadline, momentum is swinging in Philadelphia’s favor. Pyrrhic victories have rolled into real ones. Lately, goaltending and defense have reached a balance. The Flyers veterans are still providing points to keep the team in the game. Philadelphia is trending upwards.

Tonight, the aim is to win in regulation. Gain two points without allowing Boston to rise within the Mass Mutual Eastern Division standings. The Flyers controlled the flow of the game during the third period and onward. Carrying that momentum, Philadelphia needs to get out to another hot start. Will they make the Wells Fargo Center feel the shake?

Boston Bruins – Forwards Spotlight

Patrice Bergeron scored the go-ahead goal in the second period, forcing the Flyers to battle back in the third. No one is surprised that he was the best forward on the ice. The four-time Selke Award winner will be the best on the ice most of the time.

Logging 18:38 of ice time, Bergeron tallied six shots, including the second-period goal. He did finish with a minus-one rating, however.

If Philadelphia can win this back-to-back series versus the Bruins, they’ll have to mitigate the opposing first line again.

Bergeron scored on the powerplay, which is a clear advantage for most teams facing the Flyers this season. Last night, Philadelphia played with more discipline. As I’ve preached all season, discipline will defeat talent on most nights. The overtime victory, and the first against Boston, is a clear example.

The Bruins split David Pastrnak from the first line last night. The Flyers will have a lot on their plate if Pastrnak reunites with Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Vengeance is on Boston’s mind, especially after collapsing in overtime. Sanheim’s game-winner won’t sit well, especially with Bergeron. Losing an edge and falling to the ice to create a breakaway goal wasn’t anything Philadelphia expected.

Boston Bruins – Defensemen Spotlight

Matt Grzelcyk had his fingerprints on Bergeron’s powerplay goal. Again, the Flyers must reduce the man-advantage opportunities for the Bruins. If they did a better job of that last night, Philadelphia could have won in regulation.

Boston’s top defensive pair saw the most ice time of the entire team. Charlie McAvoy and Grzelcyk get in shooting lanes, dropping the through rate of Flyers shooters. Lately, the Flyers have outshot their opponents more times than they haven’t. High percentage shots, especially against the talented goaltenders Boston possesses, are crucial to success.

Last night, Philadelphia notched thirty-two shots on goal. An additional twelve nullified by the Bruins (five by Grzelcyk and McAvoy.)

Alain Vigneault preaches a high percentage shooting offense. When the Flyers were getting outshot on a nightly basis, they were scoring at a high rate. If Philadelphia can find a healthy balance, the forwards are dangerous. Rebound opportunities created scoring chances. Travis Konecny nearly scored two goals in those scenarios.

Boston Bruins – Goaltender Spotlight

After a brilliant start, Daniel Vladar will back up Jeremy Swayman. For Swayman, tonight will be his NHL debut.

He’ll go head-to-head with Carter Hart, who bounced back in a shootout loss to the New York Islanders. Imagine the confidence restored in Hart after a great start. No contest in the NHL is a sure victory, but you have to feel Hart will be the favorite in this goaltender battle.

At home, this is a “can’t miss” opportunity for the Flyers to close in a point behind Boston for a playoff spot.

Flyers Prediction

Currently, Philadelphia are the underdogs. The starting goaltender decision doesn’t change that. As the season has played to date, it’s tough to dispute those odds. “The City of Brotherly Love” has been here before. Tonight, the Flyers create their history with a winning effort.

Flyers 4, Bruins 2

Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre

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