Today's Free Picks for
Game 2 - posted at 12:15 PM EST.
7:00 PM EST. OT included. Now what? After Brian Elliott was torched for four goals before the fans were comfortably in their seats, Dave Hakstol had no choice but to turn to Petr Mrazek, who didn’t look much better. Goaltending for the Flyers is not a minor issue that the team can work on like some defensive deficiencies for instant, it’s a major problem that there are no answers for. Whatever choice Hakstol makes regarding his starting goaltender for Game 2 is the wrong one. If he goes back to Elliott, it’s a bad decision and if he starts Mrazek, it’s also a bad decision.
Before this series began, we anticipated that goaltending was going to be an issue but had our concerns about Matt Murray, as he struggled all year with injuries and consistency and Pittsburgh does not have adequate backup. Well, Murray put that to rest with a great performance in Game 1 and there is no reason to believe he can’t perform at a high level again. Perhaps most importantly, Murray’s teammates believe in him and that’s a massively different mindset than the Flyers players have about their goaltending.
Weak goaltending resonates throughout. Players are afraid to make a mistake so the Flyers will be playing cautious right off the hop. Tonight, they’ll be extra cautious after Wednesday’s debacle. Weak goaltending deflates the entire team as well. Everyone is working hard and suddenly a team with weak goaltending is down a goal early or two goals and it takes the wind out of their sail. With great goaltending, teams’ feel they can come back but with weak goaltending, they know they cannot. Whoever is in net for the Flyers tonight will be nervous, not relaxed and probably playing scared.
As we look ahead to Game 2, one truly has to wonder how the Flyers are going to compete with the state of mind that the Penguins put them in after Game 1. Usually a team will respond to getting whacked but this one is different. Philadelphia’s rancid goaltending prevents a strong response and the Penguins, with their outstanding snipers, can smell a wounded animal better than any team in the league. The Philadelphia Flyers are a wounded animal surrounded by a pack of hyenas.
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PITTSBURGH -1½ +144 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.88)