Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 11:45 AM EST.
1:35 PM EST. Regulation only. Don’t look now but if the Flyers win in regulation here, they will move into a tie with the Penguins with 90 points each. Unless puck-luck plays a big part, we wouldn’t count on that happening. There is not a team in the NHL more worthy of getting behind when the chips are down than the Pens. This is a squad that rises to the occasion when it matters most. This is in no way a do-or-die situation for Pittsburgh but they are surely aware that their cross-state rivals are knocking at their door. So, it’s either that Philadelphia pulls even with Pittsburgh in points (with a regulation win) or the Penguins gain some separation from the Flyers and keep their hopes alive for a division title. We’re betting the latter.
The Penguins will go for a sweep of the four-game season series. Philadelphia did get a point from an overtime loss in the first meeting on Nov. 27 but in the two more recent meetings, the Penguins won by a collective 10-3 and right now the Pens are healthy and playing great, as they’re 4-0-1 in their past five home contests and 15-1-1 in their past 17. Furthermore, Pittsburgh’s offensive metrics have been off the charts the past two to three weeks, as they are constantly firing away 40 shots on net or more. With Philadelphia very likely turning to rookie Alex Lyon to face the Pens for the first time (Elliott and Neuvirth are still injured while Mrazek has been a disaster), we wouldn’t trust him here.
Alex Lyon was not even considered to be Philadelphia’s third string goaltender. They traded for Mrazek and were ultimately forced to use Lyon because Mrazek has been so bad. Lyon has looked good at times but very shaky at other times. At this crucial time of the season when most teams are kicking into playoff mode, the Flyers are 4-6 over their past 10 games while surrendering three goals or more in eight of those and four goals or more five times. Lastly, there are only four teams out of 31 (Dallas, Carolina, Buffalo and Detroit) that have fewer wins than Philadelphia against top-10 competition this season, which may explain why Philly is 0-3 against the Pens this season and likely to be 0-4 after this one is in the books.
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PITTSBURGH -1½ +151 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 3.02)