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NHL EAST SERIES BETWEEN BRUINS AND FLYERS GETS UNDERWAY

Two teams that survived seven game series in the first round face off in Philadelphia on Saturday as the Boston Bruins take on the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center. The Flyers needed 7 games to dispatch the pesky Buffalo Sabres, though had an easy time of it in the decisive game. Boston and Montreal also played to the limit, with an overtime goal in Game 7 sending the Canadiens home and allowing the Bruins to advance. No secret that the Bruins are a team that lives and dies with their defense and goaltending. They aren’t a bad offensive team statistically but they don’t want to play into a Flyers’ strength so they’ll look to make this game—and the entire series—one of ugly ‘grinding’ defensive oriented hockey. The Bruins had the #2 scoring defense during the regular season behind Vancouver allowing 2.30 goals per game. In previous years, Boston has struggled despite strong defensive play due to an impotent offense. That wasn’t the case this season—the Bruins had the #5 scoring offense in the NHL producing 2.98 goals per game. The Flyers have a marginally better offense from a statistical standpoint—they were the #3 scoring offense in the league with a 3.12 goals per game average—and likely have more individual playmakers on offense. On paper, the Flyers’ defense isn’t bad ranking #11 with a 2.63 goals against average but their goaltending and blueline play struggled at times during the series with Buffalo. In fact, three goaltenders played for the Flyers during the opening round series and that’s never a good sign. The psychological/emotional matchup will likely favor the Flyers—not only do they get to open the series on their home ice but didn’t have the ‘nailbiter’ in Game 7 of their previous series like Boston did. It was apparent by the end of the first period of Philly’s Game 7 that they were going to advance, but winning the way Boston did—in a Game 7 overtime—is a completely different dynamic. In the big picture, we think the Bruins will be a tough matchup for the Flyers in this series. Boston’s defense and goaltending is far superior and their offense isn’t that far below Philadelphia’s in terms of goal scoring output. In Game 1, however, we look for the Flyers to get the opening game win against a Boston team in a classic ‘letdown’ spot. The Bruins will be a solid play the rest of the way but in Game 1 we like the Flyers in a matchup that goes OVER the total.