With the Pittsburgh Panthers knocked out of March Madness, Pennsylvania residents – and NHL fans – can focus on a big in-state matchup between the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins.

With 10 games remaining the Flyers can open a seven-point lead on the Penguins with a win on Thursday and put themselves in great shape to claim the Atlantic Division for the first time since the pre-lockout days.

Both of these teams are relatively evenly matched and that being the case, take the excellent value offered to bet the Penguins.

The Pittsburgh Penguins Can Win Because…:

The Philadelphia Flyers are once against having issues in net – what else is new?

Let’s face it: seeing the Flyers with goaltending issues is as common as seeing the Lohans in court.

It looked like rookie Sergio Bobrovsky had quelled the concerns in the early part of the season posting a 21-6-3 record with a 2.42 GAA before the All-Star break. After it, he has just five wins in 12 starts with a lofty 3.07 GAA. Bobrovsky was pulled on Wednesday after allowing three goals on nine shots in Wednesday’s 5-4 shootout loss to the Washington Capitals. Backup Brian Boucher has actually started four of the last eight contests but he has just two wins in his last six outings overall while allowing 16 goals and posting a GAA of 3.08.

The Flyers are a bit of conundrum for hockey bettors right now. Overall, Philadelphia has a seven-game point streak going and while that has helped them keep their No. 1 spot in the standings, the reality for bettors is that the Flyers are just 4-3 in their last seven.

The Penguins have been the much stronger team overall recently as they have won five of seven. They are also 4-0-2 in their last six road games.

The Philadelphia Flyers Can Win Because…:

They have played well against Pittsburgh this season. After losing the original meeting 5-1, the Flyers have won the last three matchups by an identical score of 3-2.

They will get the benefit of dodging Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin for this contest, both of whom are nightmares for them to defend. Malkin has 43 points in 30 games against Philadelphia while Crosby has a whopping 62 points in 36 games.

There’s a stat that really stands out when comparing these squads and that’s how they fare against elite teams.

The Flyers are 23-11 against teams with a winning record this season while the Pittsburgh Penguins are just 16-16. That could be a deciding factor in Thursday’s matchup.

Outlook & NHL Betting Prediction:

Pittsburgh has won eight of the last 11 meetings in Philadelphia but much of that can be attested to Sidney Crosby being a thorn in the Flyers side. Without Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, this matchup is far more manageable for the Flyers.

But at the same time, the Flyers shouldn’t be laying this much juice in a matchup between two even teams. In their last five games, they have lost while being favored by -150, -145 and -255 on the moneylines.

The Penguins are 9-3 on two days rest and 15-9 when on the road with a total of 5.5. Based on the value, bet the Penguins in this contest.

Pick: Penguins