NHL on TNT Preview: Bruins-Flyers, Blues-Golden Knights Renew Hostilities

Lyle Fitzsimmons@@fitzbitzFeatured ColumnistOctober 20, 2021

NHL on TNT Preview: Bruins-Flyers, Blues-Golden Knights Renew Hostilities

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    Steve Babineau/Getty Images

    And suddenly, we have a hockey season.

    Though it felt like an eternity—to the hardcore fans, at least—between the Tampa Bay Lightning's second straight title-clincher and the beginning of their run at a three-peat, it's already the second Wednesday of the 2021-22 schedule, which means a second TV doubleheader on TNT.

    One of the league's old-school rivalries takes center stage in the opener at 7:30 p.m. ET, when the Boston Bruins visit the Philadelphia Flyers in an early battle for Eastern Conference positioning.

    The Bruins have played once this season, defeating the Dallas Stars 3-1 on Saturday night in Boston behind a pair of goals from Brad Marchand and 27 saves by goalie Jeremy Swayman.

    Philadelphia, meanwhile, has already taken to the Wells Fargo Center ice two times, losing a 5-4 shootout verdict to the Vancouver Canucks on Friday before returning to throttle the Seattle Kraken 6-1 in the inaugural meeting between the teams on Monday night.

    The Flyers and Bruins have been rivals since Philadelphia joined the NHL in 1967, and the teams have split six postseason series, with the most noteworthy meeting coming in the 1973-74 Stanley Cup Final, which the Flyers won in six games for the first of the organization's two straight titles.

    The nightcap will go live at 10 p.m. ET from the Nevada desert, where the Vegas Golden Knights will take on the St. Louis Blues in a battle of recent Western Conference elites.

    The Blues, who've started the season with two straight wins, won the Stanley Cup at the end of the 2018-19 season, while the Golden Knights were Cup finalists a season before and have reached the league's playoff final four in each of the last two seasons.

    Vegas has split a pair of games in 2021-22.

    The B/R hockey writing team took a comprehensive look at both matchups and sized up some of the more prominent betting options from the number-crunchers at DraftKings. Click through to get the pertinent information and perhaps uncover an opportunity or two to cash in on the action.

Bruins at Flyers, 7:30 P.M. ET on TNT

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    Len Redkoles/Getty Images

    Lest anyone forget, the Flyers were the No. 1 seed as the Eastern playoffs began in 2019-20.

    That was largely thanks to the work of Carter Hart, who'd broken through with 40 starts that season and posted sterling numbers that included 24 wins and a 2.42 goals-against average.

    The team was eliminated in the second round by the surprising New York Islanders but entered 2020-21 with renewed hope of a third Stanley Cup lap following wins in 1973-74 and 1974-75.

    However, Hart skidded to nine wins, a 3.67 goals-against average in 27 games and saw his save percentage plummet to .877, which helped drop the team out of playoff contention with a sixth-place finish in the division.

    But it's already looking better this time around.

    Now 23, Hart has stopped 58-of-63 shots faced in two games, including a 24-save effort against the Kraken that was augmented by goals from six players and a three-point night by journeyman center Derick Brassard.

    Brassard joined an exclusive NHL group by becoming the 11th player in league history to score for at least nine teams.

    Picked sixth overall by Columbus in 2006, the 34-year-old has scored for the Blue Jackets and Flyers in addition to the New York Rangers, Ottawa Senators, Pittsburgh Penguins, Florida Panthers, Colorado Avalanche, New York Islanders and Arizona Coyotes.

    "We're trying to stay tight, and it starts with the forecheck," he said, per Wayne Fish of the Burlington County Times. "We are trying to create some turnovers, and after that we can make plays. It's all about movement; you move the puck and you move yourself and you try to get open, and we are doing a good job of that so far."

    Few goalies have gotten off to as stellar a start—albeit in one game—as Boston's Swayman.

    Expected to share early-season net time with free-agent arrival Linus Ullmark, Swayman handled all but one of 28 shots sent his way by the Stars in his first start in front of an in-house crowd at the TD Garden.

    Swayman won seven of 10 starts at the tail end of last season with a 1.50 goals-against average.

    "That's special. I think it's one in a million. There's not many places like that in the league," he said of playing in front of fans, per Boston.com. "Obviously, we're fortunate. Our whole team is appreciative of the community here. So, what you hear about is true. I'm so excited to be a part of it."

    Swayman faced the Flyers twice in his initial three NHL games in April, beating them in his debut and losing four nights later, both at Philadelphia. He stopped 60-of-65 shots across the two games.

Blues at Golden Knights, 10 p.m. on TNT

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    Michael Martin/Getty Images

    Just when you thought the Blues had begun to decline, they start strong.

    Forced to retool after the loss of captain Alex Pietrangelo and stalwart winger Jaden Schwartz in the last two offseasons, it seemed like the end of a successful run in St. Louis.

    The Blues won the Cup in 2019 but were first-round losers in each of the two successive playoffs, including a four-game sweep by the Colorado Avalanche last spring. 

    Nevertheless, St. Louis beat the Avs, 5-3, in its season-opener on Saturday and followed with a 7-4 thrashing of Arizona on Monday.

    Center Jordan Kyrou had two goals and two assists against the Coyotes after laying on two assists in the season opener, and he tops the team's points list, with defenseman Justin Faulk, who had a goal and an assist in each game, just behind.

    "Just elite skill [from Kyrou], something we get to see every day in practice and in the games," center Tyler Bozak told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "It's fun to watch. He can do a lot of amazing things with the puck and find ways to score and make something out of nothing. We're lucky to have him."

    As for the Golden Knights, they were part of the league's opening-night nod to expansion teams and beat the Kraken, 4-3, on Oct. 12. However, they lost 6-2 at Los Angeles on Thursday.

    The team lost prolific forward Max Pacioretty to a fractured foot against the Kings and saw captain Mark Stone leave with a lower-body injury. 

    Coach Peter DeBoer told reporters Tuesday Stone will not require surgery and is "in between day-to-day and week-to-week," while Pacioretty is week-to-week.

    Stepping into the offensive void may be defenseman Shea Theodore.

    "I was talking with Pete," he told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "It's going to be something I'm going to try to have to do a better job of. Starting to try and create a little bit more offense from the back end.

    "Obviously, without taking as many risks because you don't want to give up too many defensively. Just trying to do whatever I can."

Betting Guide for Both Games

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    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    OK, it's been a week.

    But it's still not a lot of context when prospecting for payouts, which means it's time for a hunch or two.

    In the Bruins-Flyers game, the hunch is that the Bruins are a better, deeper and more talented team. And though the DraftKings moneyline numbers reflect that (Boston is a -140 pick, meaning bet $140 to win $100), it is possible to get them from plus-money if you're willing to lay a goal-and-a-half to do so.

    We are.

    Imagine a close game, 3-2 or 4-3 perhaps, that's stretched a smidge by an empty-netter at the end. Wait for that to occur and happily collect on a +180 outlay (bet $100 to win $180) when it does.

    The plus-money vibe remains the same in the second game, where the banged-up Golden Knights might be meeting the quick-starting Blues at the wrong time.

    St. Louis is +110 to win the game outright, which presents a "Golden" opportunity to cash in on a minimal risk against a team missing two-thirds of its No. 1 line.

    Cue up the trumpets, it's time to count cash.

         

    If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, crisis counseling and referral services can be accessed by calling 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537) (IL).

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