Game Preview 36/82: Flyers at Bruins

Carter Hart and Ivan Provorov gather the puck versus the Boston Bruins

Is there another franchise in the NHL that needs a win more than the Philadelphia Flyers? I would argue that there is not, though three teams in the league haven’t captured double-digit victories.

Right now, the Flyers are one of the sloppiest franchises. Mike Yeo questioned the effort of his team. Justin Braun cited differences between leadership and accountability from his time with the San Jose Sharks. The franchise’s culture needs rehabilitation. A win tonight doesn’t make anyone feel better about this season, but it pauses the descent down the Metropolitan Division standings.

Yet, Philadelphia’s tied for fifth in the division. The discrepancy between them and the Pittsburgh Penguins is fourteen points, but they’re not chasing them particularly. The Flyers are chasing the Boston Bruins. Nine points behind, a regulation victory cuts the deficit to seven.

Both franchises played each other twice. Each of those games took place at the Wells Fargo Center. Martin Jones started those games to a tune of a 1-1-0 record.

Tonight, Carter Hart settles between the iron for Philadelphia.

Boston Bruins (20-11-2; 42pts)

Tuukka Rask signed with the Bruins two days ago. Expect him to start across from Carter Hart.

“It’s going to be a mental challenge mostly anyway, come my next game, but I’ve played enough games that I think I can overcome that challenge and hopefully play at my best.”

Tuukka Rask; 1/13/2022

He’s 19-2-4 against the Philadelphia Flyers. Rask is a plug-and-play goaltender. Adding Rask to the goaltending depth in Boston presents another daunting opponent. Bruce Cassidy is intelligent for starting Rask, a goaltender who could help stretch the points lead in the standings.

The Bruins are as damaged as the Flyers.

Notable scratches due to injury or COVID protocol include:

Brad Marchand gets the player spotlight heading into tonight’s matchup. He scored a hat-trick during the 5-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens. Marchand isn’t a player that needs to be hot to be a threat. He, with Patrice Bergeron, is notorious for lighting the league on fire.

Philadelphia Fly-By

A decade expired since the Philadelphia Flyers won a regulation game in Boston.

There’s a stark contrast between Rask and Hart. Against the Boston Bruins, Hart is 4-4-2. His record is prettier than his performance metrics. The Flyers opened at +200 money line odds, but those jumped to +220. That’s the effect Rask has.

At least Philadelphia is physically healthier than they’ve been as of late. It’s the mental aspects that deserve questioning.

“Obviously we were missing some guys. So how do you compensate for that? Well, you up your compete level. You dig in harder to your team game. Obviously you have to show more resilience, heart, whatever you want to say. You look at tonight, and I thought we had an okay start. Next thing you know, they score a goal, and after that…whether we didn’t believe that we could win, or whatever the case was, we were not good enough.”

Mike Yeo; 1/6/22

Notable scratches due to injury or COVID protocol include:

Pay attention to Jackson Cates. He’s surrounded by veterans in the bottom six who will boost his confidence. Cates has the speed to break open if Oskar Lindblom gives him a nice lead pass in the neutral zone. His performance also ties into Morgan Frost on the fourth line. Between the two prospects, which one will win over Yeo at the TD Garden?

Prediction

It all looks grim for the Philadelphia Flyers. Rask is not a goaltender to bet against. While both teams are equally damaged, depth matters. Give the Boston Bruins the advantage in that department. Pandemic hockey is a war of attrition, and the Bruins are better equipped.

Bruins 4, Flyers 3

(Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre)

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