What’s been the site of two recent Fall Classics, Citizens Bank Ballpark has morphed into the makeshift home of the Winter Classic. With the game being played outdoors, weather has already been a factor with the game time being shifted two hours later to 3:00 PM ET.
I have already looked at this matchup in my Daily NHL Picks article, but lets break things down some more to see why I am predicting an upset.
The Flyers come into this game slumping along with their
goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov. Signed in the offseason to a nine-year, $51million
contract, he’s failed to live up to the expectations. Instead, the Flyers will
look to Sergio Bobrovsky to end a downward trend that’s seen them lose four of
their last six games.
The Rangers come into this game at the other end of the
spectrum after winning five of six. They’ve been riding goaltender Henrik
Lundqvist for years and now the stellar netminder appears to have a full team
around him. The Rangers find themselves atop the East with 50 points heading
into this contest.
Monday, January 2nd
NHL Odds boards had opened with the Flyers at -135, but early NHL betting action on Philly quickly raised that number to -150. The total of 5.5 now sits at 5 at the majority of sportsbooks. While the Flyers seem to be the obvious choice here, where can bettors find the best value in this year's Winter Classic when making their NHL picks.
The New York Rangers can win because…
The Flyers are not a great home team. Granted, home-ice
advantage – or maybe home-field advantage is more apt in this case – will be a
little different given the change of venue.
There hasn’t been much affection for the Flyers in the
City of Brotherly Love. This season, they are just 8-5-2 at home compared to
14-5-2 when away. They score enough goals at home (3.67) but their problem has
been the amount of goals they’re letting in. On the road, they give up just
2.62 compared to 3.27 at home.
Bryzgalov has been the main culprit but Bobrovsky hasn’t
helped. His GAA, save percentage and win percentage are all worse at home.
While the Flyers brass might be trying to sell Bobrovsky
as a solution, let’s not forget that he fell flat on his face last year when he
had a chance to secure the No. 1 job and that was one of the main reasons why
the front office went after Bryzgalov.
As for the Rangers, King Henrik is trucking right along
with a 1.91 GAA (third-best in NHL) and .937 save percentage (fourth-best).
He’s played relatively well against the Flyers with an 18-10-3 record and has
allowed just 26 goals in the last 13 meetings (two goals per game).
The Philadelphia Flyers can win because…
They’ve got the offense to trump the Rangers defense. Monday’s
Winter Classic is a traditional affair of a team led by a stellar offense
compared to a team led by a stellar defense.
The Rangers may lead the Eastern Conference with 50
points but they’ve tallied just 107 goals on the year, which doesn’t even put
them in the top 10. The Flyers are far more accustomed to lighting the lamp as
they averaged 3.31 goals in December.
The Flyers perform well against teams with a winning
record, winning 10 of 14 contests this season (+6.2 units). They’re also 5-2
this season when having three or more days rest.
Even if the Rangers dictate the pace and this game is low
scoring, that won’t deter the Flyers. They’ve won four of the last six meetings
at home against the Rangers and all six of those games have stayed under.
Outlook & NHL Betting Prediction:
The Flyers have the offensive weapons
but the Rangers have the defense and goaltending. Throw in the fact that they
are playing better these days after winning six of seven and the Flyers are
losers of four of six, and the Rangers are the play as an underdog.
NHL Picks: Rangers