Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 5:35 PM EST.
Pittsburgh -½ +160 over PHILADELPHIA
7:00 PM EST. We are very likely going to stick to regulation bets for the entire season. We applied that strategy last year and without going into all the details, over the long haul the Return on Investment (ROI) is greater. It also means we’re not leaving the outcome to a skills contest. To us, there is nothing more frustrating than to lose a game in a shootout after our team played so hard for 65 minutes.
Books have this wager classified in different ways. Some have it listed as a 3-way bet (meaning you can bet a tie) and others have it as regulation or half-puck line. All three are exactly the same, thus it matters not if you see it offered as a three-way bet or otherwise.
The Flyers are a solid team, but there’s nothing extraordinary about them. There are a couple of factors driving up Philadelphia being overpriced. First, the Flyers were red hot before the hiatus and used a 9-1-0 stretch to vault themselves into the top four of the Eastern Conference. That earned Philadelphia a spot in the seeding round robin in the bubble and the Flyers took that opportunity and ran with it. Philadelphia swept the round robin to become the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
The Flyers eked by the 12th-seeded Montreal Canadiens in Round 1 and then fell to the Islanders, 4-3, in the Conference Semifinals. Philadelphia was out-played in both series, but got timely goaltending from Carter Hart to make it 13 games into the playoffs. To the naked eye, getting within one game of the Conference Finals looks impressive, but a deeper look reveals that the Flyers were quite fortunate to get that deep into the tournament. They had no business beating the Habs and they were schooled by the garbage Islanders.
Philly’s statistical profile in 2019/20 was a good last year but not great. Their bottom six forwards are average at best. Their defense is average. Carter Hart is being billed as the league’s top goaltender or a top-three goalie and while that may well be, chances are better that regression sets in under all that hype and the weight of expectations. Indeed, the Flyers are overpriced to start.
The Penguins suffered an embarrassing loss to the Montreal Canadiens in the play-in round. The narrative we’re hearing or reading is that their days as an elite team are gone and thus, they’re being viewed as an outdated toy. We are not in agreement with that one bit. You see, the Pens were 7th in the league in points percentage, which means they wouldn’t even have played a play-in round if they were in the Western Conference, and more importantly, weird stuff happens in 4-game sample sizes. They had elite underlying metrics last season before half of their team got injured, and strong underlying metrics even after suffering these injuries. They’re a damn good hockey team that got rid of their biggest problem in the off-season, and while their top players are no spring chickens, they’re still elite players and nothing less than contention should be expected out of this team.
Furthermore, the Pens goaltending was atrocious last so expect improvement in that department with Tristan Jarry taking over. Outside of Jarry (he could be hit or miss) though, you can see what makes this lineup so good. The new additions are Kasperi Kapanen, Cody Ceci, and Mike Matheson. Jason Zucker is a player to watch, as he’s in line for a great year. Pittsburgh was dragged down by injuries and they got better. They won’t live or die by the new guys; they’ll live or die by Guentzel, Crosby, Malkin, Marino, Letang, and Dumouli and that’s an outstanding place to start.
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Pittsburgh -½ +160 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 3.20)