NHL Odds, Picks and Predictions: Philadelphia Flyers vs. Boston Bruins (Thursday, Jan. 21)
Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Patrice Bergeron
- The Boston Bruins have yet to score a 5-on-5 goal in 2021 while the Philadelphia Flyers' offense is overperforming.
- Pete Truszkowski explains why this matchup sets up for a bet on the under:
Philadelphia Flyers vs. Boston Bruins Odds
|Time||7 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Wednesday night and via BetMGM. Get an INSTANT $500 deposit match at BetMGM today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.|
The Boston Bruins will play their fourth game of the season on Thursday night. They are still in search of their first even-strength goal.
Will the Bruins finally start lighting the lamp against the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night?
The Philadelphia Flyers are 3-1-0 and have outscored their opponents, 15-11, so far in 2021. With the first week of the season in the books, DraftKings has the Flyers as the fifth-favorite at +1500. While the Flyers have matched expectations on the scoreboard, a deeper look does provide some cause for pause.
The Flyers have the sixth-worst expected goals rate (44.42%) and are overperforming their underlying metrics in almost every way. Philadelphia is scoring 3.06 goals per 60 minutes at 5-on-5, but it is only creating 1.89 xG per 60. It’s a similar story on defense where the Flyers are allowing 2.14 goals on 2.36 expected goals per 60 at 5-on-5.
A quick way to measure how lucky a team has been is to look at its PDO (shooting percentage + save percentage). The theory is that, when you add a team’s shooting percentage with their save percentage, it should come out to around 100. Anything way under 100 shows you a team that may be unlucky and anything soaring above the century mark means that a team may be getting lucky. Through four games the Flyers have a PDO of 106.7. In all likelihood, this number will regress towards 100. That means the Flyers’ will either start scoring less, making fewer saves, or most likely: both.
This doesn’t mean the Flyers are a bad team; it simply means they’ve gotten the bounces early in this season. While we should expect that stuff to even out, it doesn’t the Flyers will come tumbling down the standings. I expect them to certainly score less than they have up to this point, but with Carter Hart and Brian Elliott, goaltending should remain a strong point.
Speaking of teams that are due for some regression, let’s talk about the Bruins offense. It’s with great certainty and conviction that I guarantee Boston will not be held to 0 goals at 5-on-5 for the whole season.
NHL media and pundits did question the Bruins going into the season, wondering if this was the same team that won the Presidents’ Trophy as the league’s best regular season team in 2019-20. The Bruins lost their top-scoring defenseman, Torey Krug, to free agency. They also let captain Zdeno Chara walk.
However, the biggest impact has been the loss of David Pastrnak, who tied with Alex Ovechkin for the league lead in goals last season. Pastrnak has been out for the first week of the season and will not return in time for this game.
Even without Pastrnak, Krug and Chara, it shouldn’t be this bad. Boston has generated 2.09 expected goals per 60 minutes, which is right around league average and not far behind their mark from last season (2.12). There’s still plenty of offensive talent on this team with Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci.
Thankfully, the B’s still play elite team defense and have terrific goalies. Their 1.81 expected goals against per 60 minutes is a top-10 mark this season and Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak have both been their usual, reliable selves in goal for Bruce Cassidy.
Flyers vs. Bruins Best Bet
Usually in a game between a team that’s over-performing and a team that’s under-performing, I’d buy the dip on the under-performing team. However, it seems like oddsmakers have plenty of respect for the Bruins. The B’s are consensus -135 favorites in this game, and I think that’s spot on.
If Boston gets down to the -125 range, I’d strongly consider a bet on them. At this price however, I see no value. If the public overreacts to the records and this line comes crashing down before game-time, I’m keen on backing the Bruins here.
However, I still like the total in this game.
I outlined Boston’s inability to score so far this season, and while I do expect positive regression, Boston has never been an offensive juggernaut. Even last season when the Bruins were the best team in the league, their offensive metrics were middle of the road. Without Pastrnak, their offense is significantly weaker.
Boston’s defense remains the strength of that team, and it doesn’t appear that has changed even with the loss of some key defensemen. Philadelphia is also due for some regression in the goal-scoring department, and I think that starts in this game.
I think three goals will be enough to win this game, and therefore I’m looking towards the under. Bruins games are 0-3 to the under this season, while Flyers games are 3-1 to the over. I think Boston’s style of play will win out in this contest.
The Pick: Under 5.5 Goals (+105)