The Pittsburgh Penguins host the Philadelphia Flyers tonight as the Pens seek their fifth consecutive win. Will the Flyers be able to stop the streaking Pens tonight? See who our handicappers are backing with their NHL picks tonight.
As new breaks that Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby
is still suffering from concussion symptoms, his team has adjusted to life
without him and are aiming for their fifth consecutive win.
Thursday’s contest will be a special one as Philadelphia
Flyers forward Jaromir Jagr will return to his former stomping grounds in
Pittsburgh where he dominated the league for nearly 11 seasons. Now a member of
the Flyers, he’ll try to help his team avoid their first three-game losing
streak of the season.
The Flyers have played well in this series and could use
a win in the worst way to get back on track after slumping over their last five
NHL Odds makers opened with Pittsburg at -125 and a total of 5.5. Early NHL betting action has since pushed the lines to now list the Penguins at -135, and sportsbooks are asking for a total of 6 points.
Are the Penguins learning to adapt to life without Sid, or will the Flyers knock them down a size tonight? See which way we are placing our NHL picks on this game.
Flyers can win because…
The Penguins are the perfect team for the Flyers to get
right against. Odds as it sounds, the Flyers have actually fared very well in
this series earning at least a point in five straight meetings. They haven’t
lost in regulation to Pittsburgh since October 16th, 2010. Ilya Bryzgalov led the Flyers to a 3-2 win
over Pittsburgh on December 8th while Sergio Bobrovsky is 3-1-1
against the Pens with a 2.17 GAA and .926 save percentage.
Philadelphia hasn’t lost three in a row all season long,
so they aren’t going to panic in this spot. They aren’t a team that goes on
long losing streaks and they know how to snap out of it. The road has been kind
to them this season as they are 13-5-2 away from home and four of the losses
have come in New York and Tampa Bay. Removing those cities from the equation,
the Flyers have won 13 of 16 road games.
Penguins can win because…
The Flyers goaltending situation is a wreck. Ilya
Bryzgalov was acquired in the offseason and signed to a nine-year contract but
he’s been no where close to worth the $51 million he was given. He’s got a 3.01
GAA this season and an .890 save percentage, which is among the worst for
starting goaltenders. He’s been even worse recently as he’s posted a 4.58 GAA
in his last four starts and on the season, he’s allowed four or more goals in
10 of his 25 starts. That only happened in 13 of his 67 starts last year.
The Pens should have a big edge in net as Marc-Andre
Fleury is 19-7-2 on the season with a 2.24 GAA and he’s been even sharper at
home with a 2.12 GAA and a .921 save percentage. He’s won 11 of 15 starts at
Philadelphia is slumping badly these days with just one
win in their last five games. Pittsburgh
is at the opposite end of the spectrum with four straight wins and their
offensive weapons heating up. Evgeni Malkin has 18 points in his last eight
while James Neal is in the midst of an eight-game point streak.
They’d love to have Crosby back but overall, things are
good for Pittsburgh right now.
Outlook & NHL
This looks like a good spot to take Philadelphia. Sitting
as a +115 dog facing a team they’ve played very well against, the Flyers should
be good for a bounce back.
Keep an eye on the goaltending situation as Bobrovsky has
to be the key. If he’s in net, the Flyers are worth a bet. If it’s Bryzgalov,
take the Penuins and the over.