NHL Odds and Picks (Sunday, August 2): Betting Predictions for Flyers vs. Bruins
Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Charlie McAvoy (#73), Sean Couturier (#14).
- Betting odds for Sunday's Bruins vs. Flyers NHL game (3 p.m. ET, NBC) have the Bruins as slight -127 favorites with the over/under set at 5.5.
- The Bruins won 16 of their last 20 games before the break, and given the rising age of some of their players, may benefit from the hiatus.
- Check out Sam Hitchcock's full betting preview of the matchup, including breakdowns of each team and analysis on how to bet this game.
Philadelphia Flyers vs. Boston Bruins
|Flyers Odds||+110 [BET NOW]|
|Bruins Odds||-127 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||5.5 (-125/+104) [BET NOW]|
|Time||Sunday, 3 p.m. ET|
Not since the Pittsburgh Penguins lost to the Detroit Red Wings in the 2008 Stanley Cup Final has a runner-up returned to the Final in the subsequent season.
Before that, it had not happened since 1983 when Wayne Gretzky’s Oilers lost to the four-time champion New York Islanders and then returned the following season to take the Cup from the Islanders.
But without fans in the stands and playing games at a neutral site in August, these are not normal times. For last year’s Stanley Cup runner-up, the Boston Bruins, how the recess affects their postseason fate will be fascinating.
The Bruins were white hot before the break, winning 16 of their last 20 games. Ceasing play while they were consistently winning games at first blush seems like a negative. Yet, one reason it is so incredibly difficult to return to the Cup Final is the accumulation of games.
Take Brad Marchand. The Bruins forward played 79 games during the 2018-19 regular season and then 24 more in the postseason. That is over 100 games, but with the shortened season and long layoff, getting back to the Final is arguably easier now that he has had time to rest.
Travis Konecny and Kevin Hayes will be steering Philadelphia’s second line. Together they registered a 50.55% expected goals over 276 minutes and saw their opponents collect more shot attempts than they did.
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.
It seems like Scott Laughton is getting first crack at third forward over Joel Farabee or James van Riemsdyk, and the numbers suggest Laughton is a slightly better option over Farabee and that Laughton and Farabee are both significantly better than van Riemsdyk.
Still, as good as Konecny is, this line cannot keep pace with Boston’s Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak, especially if Pastrnak is healthy.
The numbers for the Flyers’ offense are pedestrian, even when you consider that they were aided this season by a jump in all-strength shooting percentage from 9.33 to 10.48. Who was the biggest beneficiary of a career-best shooting percentage? Konecny, whose shooting percentage was 13% in 2017-18 and 2018-19, but this year was at 17%. If the first forward line is neutralized and Konecny goes cold, things could get ugly.
Boston has had nearly five months to recover. Considering Marchand is 32, Tuukka Rask is 33, and Patrice Bergeron is 35, the Bruins’ core receives a reprieve from the wear and tear that two deep playoff runs would normally demand.
Ironically, even with the respite, there have been ominous signs from Boston’s training camp. Rask broke a finger on his glove hand. David Pastrnak has missed large amounts of training camp, as has recent addition Ondrej Kase. That Charlie McAvoy missed two practice sessions in the middle of July is slightly unsettling.
Still, at full health or not, this squad is awesome. The Bruins are stingy in terms of allowing shots, holding opponents to 28.68 shots per 60 minutes and forcing shot attempts from distance.
Both Rask and Jaroslav Halak saw their average shot distance at 5v5 come from 39 and 40 feet respectively. In that same vein, the Bruins were one of three teams in the NHL who finished with under 9 high-danger chances per hour.
The Bruins’ offense at 5v5 doesn’t scream powerhouse, but their even strength numbers belie the full capabilities of their scoring. Boston had the second-best power play in the NHL this season and was the best in the Eastern Conference by over two percentage points.
The Flyers don’t run afoul of the codes of conduct like some of their Eastern Conference round robin peers, but they also aren’t Puritans like the Blue Jackets.
Against Boston, the margin of error is slim because two consecutive penalties could put the Flyers at a multi-goal deficit. Philadelphia has a decent penalty kill but not one strong enough to test fate.
Furthermore, the schematic element for Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy is not difficult to envision. He could deploy No. 3 center Charlie Coyle against the effervescent Sean Couturier-Claude Giroux-Jakub Voracek first line. Buttressing Coyle from the back end would shut down defensive pairing Brandon Carlo and Torey Krug. It is plausible that tonic sanitizes the Flyers’ dynamic first line.
If the Bruins can take that venerable first line away, the Flyers’ foundation crumbles quickly.
This game is a pass at the current price. With Kase absent and the time frame for his return hazy, the Bruins’ forward group looks distressingly top heavy. One bad game from the Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak trio could torpedo the offense.
But if the betting line suddenly moves to -115, an unknown quantity such as Jack Studnicka playing with Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci looks more palatable. Conversely, if the money starts to pour in from the public on Boston because of memories of last postseason’s success — and Pastrnak’s omnipresent Dunkin’ Donuts ads — the Flyers, at +125, are worth grabbing.
The Flyers’ offense is capable, and Hart can paper over weaknesses in the defensive group on a single-game basis. Monitor, and if opportunity arises, pounce.