Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 1:30 PM EST.
7:00 PM EST. OT included. Carolina’s talent is not in question here. This team was built around quality players that control the puck and work hard along with one of the best group of defensemen in the league. We’ve covered this many times already and will mention it again that the only reason this team isn’t a threat is because they have minor league goaltending. No check that, Cam Ward and Scott Darling aren’t even minor league worthy. When you have horrible goaltending you may win some games like the Hurricanes have but it also makes you the worst type of favorite. Goaltending decides more games than anything else in this league and the proof is in the pudding. Hockey is the only major sport where the dominating team loses so frequently. After losing four of its last five games, the Hurricanes are very aware that their season is over. That goes to mindset. After working so hard and getting let down by your goaltender every game, it takes a heavy mental toll. In those aforementioned four losses, Carolina outshot New York, 44-23 and lost 6-3. They had a 4-1 lead over Boston in the third before the B’s scored five times on 11 shots. In a 6-2 loss to Minnesota, the Wild scored five times on their first 12 shots and finally, in their loss to Winnipeg, Carolina outshot the Jets, 35-23. Every shot by Philadelphia has a chance to go in and the Flyers have some snipers.
Philadelphia has lost seven of their past eight games. They’ve given up an eight-point cushion in the playoffs and have an increasing chance to miss out. Why have they stumbled? All you need to do is look up their goaltending for the reason why they can’t win. Petr Mrazek has been rat shit since being forced into guiding them to the playoffs after being traded from Detroit. Alex Lyon came into Thursday night’s game in relief of Mrazek, who once again had a terrible start in net, and Lyon thrived. Lyon stopped every shot he faced, but couldn’t help the Flyers comeback in time against the Blue Jackets. Despite all of the noise that has gone on, Lyon has at least earned another start. For someone with zero NHL experience, Lyon has been pretty impressive at times. He had a series of five saves on the team’s penalty kill on Thursday, which really helped changed the momentum in the game. Players rally around an effort like that.
Claude Giroux and Travis Konecny have been very strong for the Flyers, helping generate chances and pushing the pace. Nolan Patrick has been robbed multiple times of scoring chances but likely won’t be denied here. Michael Raffl, Wayne Simmonds, and Laughton are generating a lot of zone time and scoring chances and almost led the Flyers to a big comeback last game out. The Flyers' players had a closed door meeting after losing to the Jackets last time out but again, the only reason they're losing is because of poor goaltending and we’re willing to gamble on them here with Lyon in goal because there is a chance he thrives.
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Philadelphia +109 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.18)