NHL Odds & Pick for Philadelphia Flyers vs. Boston Bruin: Are the Banged-Up Flyers Good Value in Lake Tahoe? (Sunday, Feb. 21)
Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images
- Two East Coast clubs close out the NHL's games at Lake Tahoe with a primetime matchup on Sunday night.
- Both the Flyers and Bruins enter this matchup banged up, although Philly is dealing with a few more crucial injuries.
- Michael Leboff explains why he thinks that gives the Flyers betting value on NBC.
Flyers vs. Bruins Odds
|Time||Sunday, 7:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Saturday and via DraftKings.|
The NHL’s weekend in Lake Tahoe concludes on Sunday with a showdown between the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers, two of the top teams in the East Division. Obviously Saturday’s contest between the Golden Knights and Avalanche was a mess, so here’s hoping Sunday goes a lot smoother.
The Flyers are dealing with a litany of injury/COVID-19 issues, which explains why the Bruins come into this game as -205 favorites. Philadelphia is expected to be without top-six forwards Travis Konecny, Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, and Oskar Lindblom.
The Bruins will likely be without defensemen Matt Grzelcyk, Jakub Zboril and forward Ondrej Kase. Grzelcyk is a pretty big loss, but Boston’s injury issues are not nearly as drastic as Philadelphia’s.
Will Philadelphia’s Luck Run Out?
Injuries aren’t the only reason to be skeptical of these Flyers. In fact, you could make a sound argument that Philadelphia has been the luckiest team in the NHL this season. The Flyers, not known for their finishing talent, currently lead the league with a 13.24 shooting percentage at 5-on-5. Hockey is a weird game and teams can sometimes run hot for quite a bit, but that number is a pretty big outlier when you consider that the second-highest mark belongs to Washington at 10.94%. There is only one other team (Toronto) that is currently above 10% on the season.
Philadelphia’s sky-high shooting percentage has helped it cover up some pretty poor 5-on-5 play. The Flyers are the worst possession team in the NHL with a 44.7% shot share at even strength. On average, Philadelphia is surrendering 11 more shot attempts at 5-on-5 than it is taking. The Flyers also rank 29th in the league with a 45.63 expected goals rate (xG%) and 27th with a 45.05 high-danger chance percentage.
At some point, these numbers will catch up to the Flyers.
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.
Boston’s Defense Is Dominant
The Boston Bruins have achieved their 10-3-3 record in a different way. While the Flyers are thriving thanks to a hot offense and solid goaltending, Boston is smothering teams with its defense. Boston is second in the NHL in expected goals allowed, second in shot attempts allowed and fourth in goals allowed per 60 minutes at 5-on-5.
This is nothing new for the Bruins, who led the NHL with a 1.98 expected goals against per 60 minutes in 2019/20, but it is perhaps a smidge surprising since they lost two top-four defensemen in the offseason.
With a defense this stingy Boston doesn’t need to generate a ton of offense, but a little more punch couldn’t hurt. The Bruins are 28th in the NHL in xGF/60 and 25th in goals per hour at 5-on-5. One way the B’s are able to make those results stick is by taking care of business on special teams. Boston leads the NHL in penalty kill percentage and has the eighth-best power play percentage through the first quarter of the season.
Flyers vs. Bruins Best Bet
I think there is money to be made fading Philadelphia in the coming days, but this is not the time. As overrated as I think the Flyers are, betting comes down to price and it’s Philadelphia or nothing at these odds. The Bruins don’t generate a lot of offense, so if the Flyers play a disciplined game they should be able to hang around and perhaps turn it into a 50/50 contest.
At +170, the Flyers have an implied win probability of 37%. They certainly lose this game more often than they win it and this isn’t a particularly fun bet to make considering Philadelphia’s depleted lineup, but I think that number is a little low. This has a decent chance to be a tight game, and I’d much rather be holding +170 than -205 if that’s how things pan out.
Sunday Morning Update: The Flyers have taken some money on Sunday morning, causing this line to come down to +155/160 around the market. I still think there’s a shred of value on Philadelphia at +160, but wouldn’t go much further than that.
Pick: Philadelphia Flyers +160 or better