By Max Harper
The Flyers and the Boston Bruins tonight open up a two-game miniseries in a battle of two of the top five teams in the league in points.
The Bruins won both previous matchups and are favored to win this contest as they head into the game having won four of their last five. Meanwhile, the Flyers are on a four-game winning streak.
Unlike the Bruins, the Flyers’ success is mostly due to their offense rather than their defense. Only three teams have more goals at even strength than the Flyers and they have not had any trouble generating scoring chances. The problem for the Flyers has been preventing scoring chances and shots.
Only four teams have given up more total scoring chances than Philly and the team has the worst shots-for percentage in the league by a sizable margin at 40.96 percent. That means the Flyers have only had a 40.96 percent share of all the shots in their games from either team. The Bruins, on the other hand, lead the league with a shots-for percentage of 59.08.
It has been an uneven start to the season for Flyers starting goaltender Carter Hart. Hart has just a .900 save percentage with a 4-2-1 record. His backup, Brian Elliott, is 3-0-0 with a .932 save percentage. Hart is likely to get the start on Wednesday.
The game opened with the Bruins as favorites at -111 and that number has moved up into the -120 to -130 range depending on the sportsbook. The total opened at 6.5 and has moved down to 5.5 with the UNDER favored in the -106 to -115 range.
Only five teams in the NHL have allowed fewer goals than Boston and all five have played at least two fewer games. The Bruins’ strong defensive play has been on display all season as they have yet to allow another team to reach 20 scoring chances in a game at even strength (a common feat every night in the NHL) and only four teams have allowed fewer total scoring chances (again, all four have played at least two fewer games).
As good as the team has been defensively, the Bruins have not had a great start on the offensive end. Enter David Pastrnak. The star winger missed the first seven games of the year and already has two goals in two games since returning.
In net, the Bruins have gone to a steady rotation between Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak. Rask, getting the start on Wednesday, is 3-1-1 with a .890 save percentage.
Betting Pick: Bruins -130
You don’t love the number at -130 but the evidence is overwhelmingly in the Bruins’ favor. They have already beaten the Flyers twice, their defensive game is elite and the Flyers give up more chances and shots than just about anyone. Oh, and David Pastrnak, the guy who had 95 points in 70 games last season, is back in the lineup.