Each Wednesday throughout the regular season, Kevin Weekes will be offering his pluses and minuses for the teams competing in the “Wednesday Night Hockey” games on NBCSN in his Weekes on the Web blog.
The Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers play for the third time this season at Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN).
Boston (6-1-2) has points in six straight games (5-0-1) and Philadelphia (7-2-1) has won four in a row.
Here’s my breakdown of the game.
Pluses: First thing is that they are healthy. Forwards Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak each had surgery this offseason and haven’t missed a beat since returning. Marchand leads the Bruins with 13 points (six goals, seven assists) in nine games and Pastrnak has three points (two goals, one assist) in two games.
Jaroslav Halak has looked great in goal. He’s 3-0-1 with a .923 save percentage and 1.72 goals-against average and has shown he’s capable of handling the workload and producing when Tuukka Rask isn’t playing.
Lastly, special teams have been great. The Bruins are 7th on the power play (30.0 percent) and second on the penalty kill (88.2 percent). They’ve also allowed the fewest shots on goal per game in the League (23.2).
Minuses: The Bruins haven’t started on time in their past two games. They had to come back from a 3-0 hole with five goals in the third period for a 5-3 win against the Washington Capitals on Monday. That came two days after they trailed 3-0 before losing 4-3 in overtime.
They had trouble scoring at 5-on-5 to start the season, but it looks like they’ve turned that around. They could be better on the road; the Bruins are 4-0-0 at home but 2-1-2 away from TD Garden.
Pluses: Forward James van Riemsdyk has scored a team-leading 13 points (five goals, eight assists) in 10 games after scoring 40 points (19 goals, 21 assists) in 66 games last season. Center Kevin Hayes has scored five goals and the Flyers are 4-1-0 in games when he scores. The Flyers are 26-1-1 when Hayes scores at least one goal, including the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season.
The Flyers also have forwards Joel Farabee, who is coming off a hat trick in a 4-3 overtime win against the New York Islanders on Tuesday, and Nolan Patrick, who is rounding into form after missing all of last season because of a migraine disorder. That’s in addition to forwards Claudie Giroux and Jakub Voracek, who bring it every night.
Carter Hart is the best young goalie in the League. I know he’s struggled to start the season, going 4-2-1 with 3.34 goals against average and .900 save percentage, but the 22-year-old has allowed three goals in his past two games and could be starting to find his groove.
Minuses: Coach Alain Vigneault said he didn’t like their 200-foot-game and has been holding players accountable. Forward Travis Konecny, who was among their leading scorers with eight points (five goals, three assists), was a healthy scratch against the Islanders this weekend. It doesn’t matter who the player is, if they don’t show up every night, they could find themselves out of the lineup.
The Flyers have three losses this season and two have come against the Bruins, one in a shootout. They were outscored 10-5 in those two games and you can bet they don’t want to lose their third straight game against the Bruins, who they’re competing with in the MassMutual East Division.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH
1. Bruins top line vs. Flyers top line
2. Will this be an offensive game or a defensive game?
3. Will the Bruins be able to start on time?