NHL Odds & Picks for Flyers vs. Bruins: This Heavy Favorite Is Worth Betting
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images. Pictured: Brad Marchand.
- Two teams whose results have been less than ideal of late meet on Monday night when the Bruins host the Flyers.
- Boston, though, appears to have found something by breaking up the vaunted Perfection Line, which led to great results last time out.
- NHL betting analyst Sam Hitchcock breaks down the matchup and why he's backing the Bruins as heavy favorites at home.
Flyers vs. Bruins Odds
|Time||Monday, 7 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Sunday and via PointsBet|
The Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers can thank each other for staying in the playoff race. After starting out 10-1-2, the Bruins have gone 9-9-3. The Flyers were once 11-4-3. Since that date in late February — it doesn’t seem that long ago! — Philly has struggled, currently with a record of 17-14-5.
The Bruins and Flyers play each other three times this week, giving each team a chance to build on or whittle down Boston’s current four-point lead over Philadelphia for fourth place in the East Division (with two games in hand for the Bruins).
April Fool’s Day’s 4-1 defeat that saw Boston’s Perfection Line generate a mere two shot attempts and one 5-on-5 shot in almost seven minutes was apparently the final straw for coach Bruce Cassidy.
On Saturday, David Pastrnak was playing with David Krejci and Nick Ritchie while Craig Smith third-wheeled with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.
Lo and behold, it worked! The lines combined for 20 shots at 5-on-5 while only surrendering six.
Like potpourri, the ingredients of Boston’s scoring were characterized by diversity. When Boston brought a third forward high, this caused fits for the Penguins. The Bruins controlled the puck below the goal line and slipped it into the slot.
Boston utilized its NHL-best face-off winning percentage to run a pretty play for Marchand. Heck, the Bruins even notched a counterattack goal when neutral-zone pressure caused Penguins defenseman Mike Matheson to burp up the puck.
Throw in a power-play goal for good measure and the Bruins won their bingo board in multiple directions. For a team that has been toothless at 5-on-5, Saturday saw the Bruins multiply their scoring options.
As thrilling as the offense was on Saturday, the Bruins’ defensive lapses were peculiar. First, there were coverage miscues in the defensive zone, with Boston failing to take away the Pittsburgh players’ sticks and not even blocking the shot when attempting to front the puck. Mark Jankowski’s goal is a notable example. Furthermore, Boston has long been known to have back-checkers press through the middle of the ice and push opponents to the fringe.
Still, at different junctures, Pittsburgh was able to traverse the neutral zone with ease. The Flyers can be a mess with puck management in their own zone and in the neutral zone, so it is paramount that the Bruins control their gaps. If they do, good things will happen.
The Bruins will be home on Monday, which likely means that Cassidy will have the Charlie Coyle line pitted against Sean Couturier, offering up a chance for Boston to shut down the Flyers’ most consistent player and likely their most dangerous line.
Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.
Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.
xG numbers cited from Evolving Hockey.
The Flyers are coming off their worst defensive month in franchise history. Since March 1, goaltenders Carter Hart and Brian Elliott rank last and second-last in Goals Saved Above Expected (GSAx) and with Hart no longer a healthy scratch, it seems a fait accompli that one of them will start on Monday night.
The Flyers’ shtick has been a combo of high-profile face plants with hints of adequacy. Saturday night was a recent moment of competency, with the Flyers outshooting the Islanders at 5-on-5. For this reason, this is a moneyline game, because the Flyers could either make this a low-scoring event that produces extra time, or lose by seven.
Philadelphia’s consistently poor starts must feel like a recurring nightmare for coach Alain Vigeneault. Revealingly, only the Ottawa Senators and Detroit Red Wings have allowed more goals in the first period.
Philadelphia received a lot of offense from the Claude Giroux and Kevin Hayes lines on Saturday, which combined for 15 shots on goals at 5-on-5 while allowing four. Yet, it was a losing effort as the Flyers fell down 2-0 early and once again found themselves trying to dig out of a hole.
In the Flyers’ last 10 games, they have been a top-five team in the league in shots percentage at 5-on-5 but have ranked bottom five in high-danger chances produced. Their struggles to create quality scoring chances inside the slot can be remedied by looking at the successful strategies Pittsburgh has employed, one of which is putting pressure on a wobbly Bruins defense that is missing Brandon Carlo (again) and goaltender Tuukka Rask.
The Bruins like to overload on the puck along the boards, so the Flyers would be wise to plop a player or two around the home-plate area so the puck can be kicked out to them once secured.
Also, the Penguins in transition are shrewd about running interference on their entries and using their off-the-puck players to drive the Boston defensemen back to create a larger gap. This could potentially draw a penalty and give an opportunity to the dangerous Bruins’ power play, but it may be a risk worth taking considering the Flyers are at their best when they put their skill players in space.
Betting Analysis & Pick
The Bruins have been putrid at 5-on-5 scoring, their defense can be shaky and they have depth issues. And yet, the biggest argument for them winning is that these problems pale in comparison to those of the Flyers, who seem to be falling apart at the seams.
Splitting up the Perfection Line led to Boston blitzing the Penguins with seven goals on Saturday. In contrast, the implosion of the Flyers’ defense masks the recent inadequacies of its offense. Therefore, even at the unsavory price of -170 on PointsBet for the moneyline, I have to grudgingly bless a wager on the Bruins to win.
Pick: Bruins -170