Boston Bruins: Bergeron-Couturier is the big matchup against the Flyers

BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 31: Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron (37) tries to get at the puck during a game between the Boston Bruins and the Philadelphia Flyers on January 31, 2019, at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 31: Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron (37) tries to get at the puck during a game between the Boston Bruins and the Philadelphia Flyers on January 31, 2019, at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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BOSTON, MA – JANUARY 31: Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron (37) tries to get at the puck during a game between the Boston Bruins and the Philadelphia Flyers on January 31, 2019, at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

We’ll see Patrice Bergeron and Sean Couturier, both elite two-way centers, face off Sunday night in Boston.

The Boston Bruins take on the Philadelphia Flyers on a rare Sunday night game. This means we’ll get to see Patrice Bergeron and Sean Couturier, two of the best two-way centers in the NHL, face off for the first time.

Nobody has to remind Bruins fans of Bergeron’s two-way game. He’s been one of the top all-around centers for the better part of a decade now.

Bergeron produces offensively, and he can dominate a game defensively. He consistently is in the mid-50% range in faceoffs, and Bergeron’s career CF is 57.6%.

Plus, he plays the power play and penalty kill, and he excels at even strength. Simply put, Bergeron does it all.

Couturier will never be as good as Bergeron, but he’s in a similar mold. You can consider him a Bergeron-lite. He averaged a little under a point per game the last two years, and his faceoff numbers are similar to Bergeron’s.

At the same time, Couturier is more than capable defensively. He finished second in the Selke voting two years ago, and he was sixth last season.

No center in the NHL impacts all aspects of the game like Bergeron, but Couturier is close. As a result, this is the matchup that will decide the Bruins-Flyers game.

How will the two centers line up on Sunday?

Bergeron, as well all know, will center Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. Together, this trio forms the best line in hockey.

Marchand and Pastrnak can’t stop scoring, and as a result, Bergeron is in the midst of one of his best offensive seasons. He averages a point per game right now, with seven goals and nine assists in 16 games. Seven of these points came on the power play.

Couturier also plays on his team’s best line. He centers Oskar Lindblom and Travis Konecny. Technically this may be Philadelphia second line, but this is really in name only.

Lindblom and Konecny lead the Flyers in scoring, so Couturier has good offensive numbers. In 15 games, he has five goals and six assists for 11 points.

Look for Bergeron and Couturier to see a lot of each other Sunday night.

Flyers coach Alain Vigneault knows his team must shut down Boston’s top line to win the game. To do this, he’ll rely heavily on his best defensive center. The Flyers are the home team, so they’ll get this a lot with the last change.

Bruce Cassidy won’t mind this matchup all that much. The Bergeron line gives him the best chance to limit Lindblom and Konecny.

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Typically, fans look forward to matchups between elite forwards because they’re likely to see plenty of scoring chances and goals. On Sunday night, we’ll get to watch tough, grind-it-out hockey between two-way stars like Bergeron and Couturier.