The Bruins chased goaltender Carter Hart early and defeated the Flyers 7-3 despite Philadelphia goals from Sean Couturier, Joel Farabee, and James van Riemsdyk.
The Flyers, despite accumulating an 8-1-1 record against all other opponents this season, have surrendered 3rd period leads in three of five meetings against Boston. The Bruins, the defending President’s Trophy champions, have two additional blowout victories.
The 2019-20 Flyers regular season inspired tremendous optimism heading into the NHL playoff bubble last summer. However, fans and media were still aware of the team’s struggles against another division foe, the New York Islanders.
The Islanders had defeated the Flyers in all three regular-season matchups between the two teams and subsequently eliminated the Flyers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. New York’s heavy, physical style presented a matchup problem that proved to be fatal as the Islanders stifled the Flyers’ offense.
Should fans worry that a Stanley Cup run will once again be impeded by the all-too-familiar narrative of a division opponent that has their number?
The Bruins have consistently competed at the top of the Eastern Conference throughout the past decade, with three Stanley Cup Finals appearances including one victory to their names. They feature an elite top line with stars Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak, and Brad Marchand. However, they are not insurmountable.
Boston lost key defensemen Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara in the off-season, and they now face the possibility of second-line center David Krejci missing significant time due to injury. Struggles from the Bruins’ bottom lines, namely center Charlie Coyle, have also brought up questions about their depth.
The Flyers are 0-3-2 this season against the Bruins, a top-tier NHL team, but the same type of stylistic mismatch that the Islanders presented last season does not exist this season against Boston.
The Flyers have allowed two hat tricks to Patrnak, who will not keep this torrid scoring pace in future matchups. Philadelphia took a two-goal lead into the final minutes of the February 3rd matchup between the two respective teams but gave the Bruins opportunities to convert on three consecutive power plays and earn the victory in overtime. The Flyers even played Sunday’s matchup at Lake Tahoe without five of their top twelve forwards.
The Orange and Black still sit in second place in point percentage in the Eastern Division. If the NHL’s intended scheduling format reaches the initially planned 56 games, the Flyers will get the opportunity to correct their mistakes against the Boston Bruins three more times during the regular season.
Hope remains for Philadelphia, as the narrative of the Boston Bruins as the thorn in the side for Philadelphia can be erased long before a potential playoff matchup between these two Eastern Division foes.