It is a fairly quiet night in the sports world. There are only seven NBA games and just five NHL games. We have our usual run of MLB games, weather permitting, but those that aren’t into betting baseball may be able to catch that show on Netflix or Hulu this evening.
We’ve got a bunch of big favorites on the betting board on the ice, but we’ll look at the Commonwealth Rivalry between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Philadelphia Flyers as the spotlight game for tonight. Pittsburgh is favored up in the -160 range at Bet US Sportsbook with a total of 6.5 and some under juice on the game.
The NHL regular season is winding down as these two teams play a back-to-back in the City of Brotherly Love.
The surging Penguins have vaulted to the top of the East Division standings, supplanting a Washington team that hasn’t even had enough players to fill a full roster because of injuries and salary cap concerns. The Flyers were recently eliminated from playoff contention, but the Penguins had better be on their toes because teams with nothing to lose can be quite dangerous.
Pittsburgh, like a lot of teams in this division, has some very big home/road splits. The Penguins are 20-4-2 at home and now 14-12-1 after Monday’s loss to the Flyers. Their splits aren’t as drastic as the Islanders, but there is great incentive to be one of the home teams in the first and/or second rounds of the NHL playoffs.
Entering play on Monday, the Penguins led the NHL in high-danger goals for at 5-v-5, despite being outchanced in that department on the season. Their ability to cash in on their best opportunities has been impressive, as they only ranked 18th in high-danger scoring chances at 5-v-5. It may be something that comes back to hurt Pittsburgh in the long run, as they have a negative expected goal differential at 5-v-5.
With Casey DeSmith in the blue paint on Monday, we should see regular starter Tristan Jarry on Tuesday. Jarry has a 2.67 GAA with a .912 SV% in his 36 efforts this season. He’s 23-9-3, as the Penguins have given him ample offensive support. His numbers, while not bad, certainly rank lower than DeSmith’s. We’ll have to see if goaltending ends up being the Achilles heel for Pittsburgh in the playoffs.
Goaltending has been the Achilles heel all season long for the Flyers. Their expected goal differential at 5-v-5 is right around zero, but their actual goal different in that game scenario was -32 going into Monday’s game with Pittsburgh. Their high-danger save percentage as a team was the lowest in the NHL and their SV% overall at 5-v-5 is the lowest in the NHL by well over 1%.
Alex Lyon got the call on Monday night for the Flyers and it led to a huge line move in Pittsburgh’s favor. Brian Elliott should get the call on Tuesday. The veteran backstop has not played well at all. He has a 13-8-2 record, but a 3.02 GAA and an .890 SV%. With 22-year-old Carter Hart out for the season with an MCL sprain, it will be up to Elliott to right the ship and finish out the season strong.
The Flyers just got done playing a four-game series with the Devils in games that ended 4-3, 6-4, 5-3, and 5-1. This is what happens with teams that are eliminated from playoff contention late in the year. Games open up in a big way. For a team like Philadelphia with suspect goaltending anyway, it may not play in their favor, as evidenced by the losses in three of four games and 18 goals against.
The Flyers don’t have a lot of scoring punch. Points leader Jakub Voracek went into Monday’s game with only nine goals and zero on the power play. Philadelphia just doesn’t really have the horses to get into an arms race with teams.
Penguins vs. Flyers Free Pick
Which is why Pittsburgh -1.5 goals is the play here, especially after Monday’s very ugly loss. The Penguins are fine with letting their offensive players go up and down the ice in a rather carefree environment. Tristan Jarry is a much better last line of defense than Brian Elliott, though Jarry has his shortcomings as well, hence the 6.5 total.
Pittsburgh is still playing for something. Philadelphia is playing out the string with poor goaltending and not enough scoring to be playing those up-tempo games devoid of defense. Just look at what they did with a Devils team that had scored fewer goals than them on the season heading into that set.
Pick: Pittsburgh Penguins Puck Line