By: Zach Carlone | Follow me on Twitter @zcarlone21
Coming off of their most exciting win of the season this past Monday night against the Washington Capitals, the Boston Bruins are looking to keep their winning spirits alive as they face off tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers. The Bruins handed the Capitals their first regulation loss of the season with five unanswered goals to win 5-3 on Monday night. The puck drop for tonight’s tilt is scheduled for 8 pm EST.
Battle Between the Young ‘D’
Both the Bruins and Flyers have found themselves success this season while constantly playing a lineup on defense very young in age. Both teams are anchored by young defenseman who look like they’ve played in the league much longer than they actually have. Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov, 24, has begun this season with six points in ten games while averaging 26:11 TOI per game. Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy, 23, quietly surpassed the 100 career points plateau in Monday night’s victory. With eight points in nine games, McAvoy is stepping up nicely as the team’s No. 1 defenseman while the team has quickly adapted to the permanent absences of former Bruins Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara both of whom departed the team this past offseason.
Not only have Provorov and McAvoy shined in their respective roles thus far, but each clubs’ supporting cast on defense is young and stable. Flyers defensemen Travis Sanheim, 24, and Philippe Myers, 24, have averaged the second and third most TOI per game this season for the talented team. For the Bruins, defender Jeremy Lauzon, 23, has stepped up in a huge role, playing most shifts with McAvoy. Both teams have young defensemen, with veterans serving as respectable mentors, who are playing some very stable and noticeably good hockey thus far this season.
Beasts of the East
The Bruins and Flyers head into this matchup sitting in the top three of the MassMutual East Division. The Bruins sit in third, while the Flyers sit in first, and with 19 combined games played heading into tonight, they collectively have only three regulation losses. That is a pretty impressive statistic, considering how talented and skilled the division is. Both teams have strong lineups at each position, and this game will definitely carry some playoff intensity with it, as this is the third time the two teams meet this season. The Bruins have won the previous two and only meetings this season, but the Flyers are heading into the game riding a four-game win streak.
The Bruins beat the Flyers in a shootout on January 21, a game that saw another 3rd period-comeback from the Bruins. Much like the past two games against the Capitals, the Bruins outplayed the Flyers for much of the contest, yet it came down to the wire. A beautiful wrist shot from Jake Debrusk in the third round of the shootout sealed a 5-4 win. Their other victory came in a 6-1 domination against the Flyers two days later, where the Bruins potted three power-play goals. We’re in store for some high-flying intensity from both teams in tonight’s battle. This game tonight is also leading up to their game against one another outdoors at Lake Tahoe on February 21st.
Bruins forward Brad Marchand and Flyers forward James van Riemsdyk lead their respective teams in points, both with 13 this season. They are both tied for seventh in points in the league with a handful of other players. Both players have great forwards to play with, and it wouldn’t be of any shock to see each of them catch a point or two in tonight’s game as well. The Bruins first line of Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak has been back in full force for two games now and should only continue to strive together. Bergeron has 11 points on the season paired with Marchand’s 13, and Pastrnak cashed in his first two goals of the season in Monday night’s game.
Outside of van Riemsdyk, the Flyers obviously have a great deal of talented forwards. With their first unit headlined by forwards Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek, the Flyers power play this season is ranked 11th with a 25.8% success rate, compared to the Bruins, who are in 7th with 30%. The Bruins will need to focus on limiting their opponent’s chances while also making sure they get their own chances going. If the Bruins can pull together a strong effort, much like the third period of Monday night’s game, then they can hand the Flyers their third regulation loss of the season.
Bruins Projected Lineup
Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak
Ritchie – Krejci – Smith
Frederic – Coyle- Wagner
Blidh – Kuraly – Bjork
Lauzon – McAvoy
Clifton – Carlo
Zboril – Miller
The Bruins held practice Tuesday after arriving in Philadelphia, where Krejci, Marchand, Miller, and McAvoy did not practice. Head coach Bruce Cassidy said all absences were maintenance-related, and all four are expected to play tonight. Depth forward Anton Blidh is also expected to make his season debut tonight, coming in on the fourth line for Karson Kulman. Per Cassidy, Rask will be starting both this game and their game against the Flyers on Friday night.