Flyers at Penguins Picks and NHL Hockey Odds
by Alan Matthews - 2/20/2013
The Pittsburgh Penguins were one of the Stanley Cup and Eastern Conference favorites (just behind the Rangers) when the season began, and the Pens haven’t disappointed. They are tied with surprising New Jersey for the most points in the conference with 22. Pittsburgh is now the East favorite on Sportsbook.ag at +250 and +500 to win the Cup, tied with the scorching-hot Chicago Blackhawks as the favorites.
The Philadelphia Flyers were considered a contender for the East and the Cup, but not a top one, and they have played a bit worse than expected. Philadelphia enters Wednesday’s game with just 15 points a little more than a third of the way through the season, which, at the moment, doesn’t have Philly in the Top 8 in the East.
This might be the NHL’s most-heated rivalry going right now and is the second of four meetings. The Flyers opened the season with a 3-1 home loss to Pittsburgh on the way to a 0-3 start – Philly has yet to get back to .500. Tyler Kennedy, James Neal and Chris Kunitz scored for Pittsburgh, while Marc-Andre Fleury had 26 saves for his franchise-record 227th career win. Claude Giroux had Philly’s lone goal, while the Flyers played without star Daniel Briere due to a wrist injury. Of course, everyone remembers last year’s highly entertaining playoff series between these rivals, a dominating six-game series win for the Flyers.
Flyers at Penguins Betting Story Lines
Pittsburgh beat Buffalo 4-3 on Sunday for its third straight win. Sidney Crosby finished with a goal and two assists, including one that set up defenseman Paul Martin's go-ahead goal with 2:04 remaining. Crosby also assisted on the tying goal, marking the fourth time in his career that he recorded game-tying and go-ahead assists in the third period of the same game. It was the first time he had done it in more than three years.
The Penguins' top line of Crosby, Pascal Dupuis and Chris Kunitz has 15 points in the past three games. Crosby is concussion-free, and it’s showing, as he ranks second in the NHL in points (24) and has 17 points in nine February games. He’s your Hart Trophy favorite, with all due respect to NHL leading scorer Thomas Vanek of Buffalo.
The Flyers played game No. 5 of a season-high (by far) six-game road trip with their best effort of the year, a 7-0 clubbing at the Islanders on Monday. It was Philadelphia’s biggest shutout win since 2008. It entered the game averaging just 2.38 goals per game, which ranked 24th in the league. Philly coach Peter Laviolette made a line change for the game, moving Matt Read on the top line with Giroux and Jake Voracek for the first time this season. That trio combined for three goals and 10 points, with Giroux netting his first goal in seven games. He ripped the team after Saturday’s loss in Montreal. Briere also scored twice. Ilya Bryzgalov made 19 saves for his first shutout of the season in his 400th NHL game. He hasn’t been all that great overall this year, ranking No. 20 in GAA at 2.42 at No. 22 in save percentage at .911.
The Flyers also killed off every penalty for the sixth straight game. They have killed off 21 straight penalties and are 38-for-40 in their last 10 games. But here’s the bad news: According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the last seven times that the Flyers scored seven or more goals in a regular season victory, they have gone 0-5-2 in the next game, scoring just 13 goals. Great stat.
The Flyers have been without first-line winger Scott Hartnell since Jan. 22 due to a broken foot. Hartnell, who had 37 goals last season and is a beast on the power play, won’t play in this one but could be back this weekend. The benefactor of Hartnell’s injury has been Voracek getting time on the No. 1 line. He had a career-high four assists vs. the Islanders – second player in NHL with four helpers in a game this season -- and has 12 points in the past eight games.
Flyers at Penguins NHL Hockey Betting Odds and Key Trends
At BookMaker, Pittsburgh has been opened at -160 with Philadelphia at +140 and the total at 5.5. The Flyers are 7-9-1 “over/under” this season (5-5-1 on road) and are 2-3 in their past five as a dog (all on the road). The Pens are 9-7 O/U (4-2 at home) and have won three straight as a favorite.
The Flyers are 1-4 in their past five after a win and 2-9 in their past 11 against teams with a winning record. Pittsburgh is 6-1 in its past seven after a win. The over has hit in five of the past seven games after the Flyers scored at least five goals in their previous game. The over is 8-0 in Pittsburgh’s past eight when its opponent scored at least five goals in its previous game. Philly has won seven of the past nine meetings. The over is 5-1-1 in the past seven in Pittsburgh.
Flyers at Penguins Picks and Betting Predictions
Philly clearly played with urgency on Monday after being called out by Giroux, but the Flyers are likely to be gassed in this one after so much time on the road. Plus, this is the Pens’ first home game against the Flyers since the playoff meltdown. They will be more than ready. Take Pittsburgh and the over.
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