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Flyers vs. Bruins prediction: Expect Philly’s losing skid to continue

Off to an NHL-best 14-2 start, Boston should cruise to a multi-goal victory over slumping Flyers

Philadelphia Flyers left wing Joel Farabee (right) controls the puck as Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (left) gives chase during a game last season. The Flyers and Bruins meet for the first time this season Thursday, with Boston a large home favorite. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Philadelphia Flyers left wing Joel Farabee (right) controls the puck as Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (left) gives chase during a game last season. The Flyers and Bruins meet for the first time this season Thursday, with Boston a large home favorite. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)Read moreMitchell Leff / Getty Images

It’s never a good time for a team to suffer through an extended slump. However, for the Philadelphia Flyers — and suddenly struggling No. 1 goaltender Carter Hart — now is the absolute worst time.

After racing out to a surprising 7-3-2 start to the season, the Flyers have lost four straight games, including Tuesday’s 5-4 overtime setback in Columbus. Next up on the schedule: A Thursday night date in Boston against the Bruins, who just happen to have the NHL’s best record, most wins and most points.

Oh, and for good measure, the Bruins are a perfect 9-0 in their barn.

Do the Flyers have any shot at ending their four-game slide and becoming the first team this season to win at TD Garden? Oddsmakers certainly don’t believe so. And we concur.

Here’s our Flyers vs. Bruins prediction for Thursday’s Eastern Conference clash in Beantown.

Note: Odds updated as of 10:45 a.m. ET on Nov. 17.

Flyers vs. Bruins Prediction

  1. Bruins -1.5 goals (at BetMGM)

Flyers vs. Bruins Prediction: Analysis

As we noted earlier this week, the Bruins were not among the small group of teams expected to join the defending champion Colorado Avalanche as 2022-23 Stanley Cup contenders.

Boston not only entered the season as a 25-to-1 Stanley Cup long shot at BetMGM, but a dozen other clubs had better odds.

What a difference five weeks (and 14 victories in 16 games) makes.

The Bruins have climbed all the up to the No. 2 spot behind Colorado on the NHL championship odds board. The Avs are the +475 favorite at BetMGM, with Boston sitting at +800.

The Bruins (14-2-0, 28 points) have been thoroughly dominant so far, winning 11 of 14 games by multiple goals (including seven of nine at home). They also have scored five-plus goals nine times and allowed two goals or fewer 11 times (including in the last six games and nine of the last 10).

So it’s hardly surprising that Boston has the NHL’s No. 1 offense by a mile (4.00 goals per game; Dallas and New Jersey are second at 3.75) and No. 1 defense by a mile (2.19 goals-against per game; Winnipeg is second at 2.36).

And for good measure, the Bruins have the league’s best penalty kill unit (91.7%). Alas, they only rank seventh on the power play (25.4%).

That’s a very long way of saying the Flyers are in big trouble Thursday night.

» READ MORE: Full sports betting coverage from The Philadelphia Inquirer

Because while Philadelphia’s offense finally woke up Tuesday in Columbus against the awful Blue Jackets — the four goals scored matched the Flyers’ combined total from the previous three games — Hart and the defense failed to take advantage.

Once the main reason why the Flyers won seven of their first 11 games, Hart is in a big-time funk. He’s taken the “L” in three of his team’s four losses during its current slide, giving up 11 goals along the way.

Contrast that with Hart’s first seven starts, when he surrendered a total of 14 goals (including two or fewer five times) and went 5-0-2. As a result, Hart has seen his goals-against average go from 2.00 to 2.50, while his save percentage has dropped from .946 to .928.

In an ideal world, Philadelphia coach John Tortorella would sit his primary goalie for a few games so he can regain some confidence. But Tortorella doesn’t really have that option, because Hart’s backup (Felix Sandstrom) is 1-4 with a 3.40 goals-against and .896 save percentage.

Whomever is in goal Thursday night — it likely will be Hart — will need to stand on his head for 60 minutes for Philly to win. Because the Flyers aren’t getting many pucks past rested Boston netminder Linus Ullmark.

» READ MORE: Scuffling Flyers starting to replay the sad story of 2021-22

Ullmark, who has been idle with the rest of his teammates since Sunday’s 5-2 home win over Vancouver, leads the NHL with a 1.96 goals-against and .936 save percentage. He comes into Thursday’s contest having allowed two goals or fewer in five straight games and five of six home starts.

As for making this bet on the puck line: We probably wouldn’t do it if Hart was playing like he was to start the season. But the fact is, prior to Tuesday’s overtime loss in Columbus, the Flyers had lost three straight by four, three and three goals.

In fact, six of Philadelphia’s last eight losses have been by at least three goals. And as we already pointed out, Boston routinely covers the puck line.

So we’ll lay the 1.5 goals with the Bruins at BetMGM and expect a sweat-free winner.

Flyers vs. Bruins Odds (via BetMGM):

  1. Moneyline: Flyers (+260) @ Bruins (-350)

  2. Puck line: Flyers +1.5 goals (+100) @ Bruins -1.5 goals (-120)

  3. Total: 6 goals (Over -120/Under +100)

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