Early NHL Picks: Flyers Will Flop Against Arizona

Doug Upstone

Saturday, February 27, 2016 4:15 PM GMT

Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016 4:15 PM GMT

The first three stops on Arizona's Eastern swing have not been a lot of fun, as their losing streak has reached four. With a step down in class, will the Coyotes be howling with a victory?

The degree of difficulty for Arizona (27-34 SU) on this sojourn thus far has been extreme, playing both Eastern Conference division leaders and last year's Stanley Cup finalist. Stuck on 60 points, at least the Coyotes face a team that is in there wheelhouse in the Flyers (27-33 SU), who has 65 points on the season.

Both clubs are 11th in their respective conferences, but because Philadelphia has more points, they are still in contention for a wild card slot.

Who had the edge in this matinee in the City of Brotherly Love?

 

Arizona's Defense Prevents Team From Winning
If you look closely at the Coyotes three losses on this trip thus far, they have not been dominated. Each was by one goal and in each instance they had a chance to at least tie any of the contests in the final few minutes and just came up short.

Nevertheless, in professional sports a close loss doesn't count for much unless you are like several MLB teams and Philadelphia 76ers who are intent on losing to hopefully get better later. Arizona's story is laid out rather simply, they are ninth in scoring at 2.7 goals a game (as of 2/26) and 30th in goals allowed at 3.1. In very basic terms, if they were the top scoring team in the NHL, they would win more frequently or played stronger defense, they would most likely be a .500 team and in contention for playoffs.

However, this a building process and with five of the Yotes top six scorers 24 years old or younger and rookie goaltender Louis Domingue just 23, one can see what they are starting to build despite arguably the most limited resources in the league.

In order to defeat Philadelphia this afternoon, the Coyotes have to fan the puck closer to the boards on defense and take away side to side passing and their forwards have to not keep being caught up ice as frequently.

 

Time For Philly to Fly
Off a 2-3 road trip, the Flyers opened six-game homestand on a positive note with 3-2 win over Minnesota. If Philadelphia is going to insert themselves into the postseason, they have to take advantage of schedule which has them playing teams like themselves.

Bedsides Arizona today, Calgary, Edmonton and Columbus are on the docket before home and home with Tampa Bay. With two points already in hand, anything less than nine points would be a major disappoint against these teams, with the schedule picking up the rest of the way.

The Flyers really need more scoring, as their 25th ranked offense only has Wayne Simmonds as a 20-goal scorer. This might not come easy today with leading scorer Claude Giroux (49 points) questionable after missing Thursday's game and second-leading scorer Jake Voracek (48 points) officially out with lower body injury. The hope is transplanted center Scott Laughton continues to shine at new left wing slot and adds offense.

 

What to Expect and Winner

With Giroux an uncertainty, there were no NHL odds on the overnight line. Expect Philadelphia to be a smallish home favorite anyways as these two squads have been evenly matched at 4-4 in last eight gatherings, each winning home and away.

Both teams have rather deplorable numbers making this a difficult choice for NHL picks, nonetheless, I will choose Arizona because they been competitive despite losing and the Flyers weakened offense is not likely to exploit the Coyotes defensive weaknesses as others might. Also, prefer the speed edge Arizona has with particular players and say they end losing streak versus the Flyers who are 16-36 against losing teams.

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NHL Pick: Arizona +135
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

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