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Penguins, Flyers to Light Up Philadelphia

Both Teams Should Continue Scoring a Lot

The Pittsburgh Penguins look to maintain their top spot in the East Division, but they’ll need to do something they haven’t done this season: win in Philadelphia. Their state rivals, the Philadelphia Flyers, have had a disastrous season but are 2-0 against Pittsburgh at the Wells Fargo Center.

Pittsburgh (34-15-3), per the NHL odds, will be -170 favorites heading into this game on Monday. It has had a much better season than Philadelphia (22-22-7), but is only 2-3-1 against the Flyers. The Penguins should win this one, but instead of picking between the two teams, bet for this game to be another high-scoring affair.

Mark Jankowski #14 of the Pittsburgh Penguins scores
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by BRUCE BENNETT / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

Betting Preview

Penguins: Light Both Lamps

At some point in the season, the Pittsburgh Penguins were almost like Philadelphia. This was a team that played one of the best 5-on-5 hockey along with a prolific power play, but struggled to stop pucks thanks to shoddy goaltending.

Tristan Jarry had a rough start but has since turned it around and is now posting stats close to last season. His 89.1% save percentage (SV%) on scoring chances is a career-best mark and he’s posted two shutouts in his last four starts.

But the last time Jarry was in Philadelphia, he got chased from the net as he allowed three goals on six shots. The Flyers have had Jarry’s number this season, and in six starts against them, he’s only posted a SV% above 90% once.

Jarry’s subpar play against the Flyers is partly why the Penguins have had issues beating them. The other would be the team’s subpar penalty kill as Pittsburgh’s 77.7 PK% is 24th in the league. Whenever Pittsburgh is playing, goals will come — on both ends.

Flyers: Ghosts in Net

This new NHL format has done one thing quite well: Make the great teams look better and the bad teams look worse. Every division has had a team or two look totally miserable, and the East actually has three with Philadelphia joining Buffalo and New Jersey.

Sure, the Flyers look like they have an even record if you discount their overtime/shootout losses. But that’s because Philadelphia got half of their wins before March. This team was 11-4-3 and a top-three team in the division at one point. Since then?

The Flyers have gone 11-18-4 with a -49 goal differential. The team has allowed 3.94 goals since the start of March, which is even worse than Buffalo and New Jersey. It’s mostly thanks to the collapse of their goaltending.

It’s not entirely on Carter Hart, either. Since he’s been sidelined with a knee injury, the Flyers have allowed 3.88 goals per game. Neither Brian Elliott nor Alex Lyon have been able to do much as the team continues to sink.

Betting Pick

We’ve got a potential for another barn burner here and that comes at the expense of either team’s goaltenders. The last game was a bit of an outlier as the 2-1 final is the first time this series has had its totals go under in six games. And it’s also the first time where neither team scored on the power play.

That’s more of an aberration than a trend as both Hart and Jarry overperformed their expectations. While Jarry can have a repeat performance, I don’t trust either Elliott or Lyon to be able to stop the Penguins enough to keep the scoring low.

The Penguins have an 87.8 SV% when playing Philadelphia while the Flyers are at 90.1%, but that’s with Hart for the most part. Sidney Crosby has six points in five games against Philadelphia and has scored on every matchup this season.

I expect Crosby to continue owning the Flyers, who will get a couple past Jarry or Casey DeSmith as well.

Pick: Over 6 (-125)

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