NHL Picks: Expect A High Scoring Affiar In Flyers vs. Penguins

Jay Pryce

Saturday, April 9, 2016 10:42 AM GMT

Intrastate rivals the Flyers and Penguins clash at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday, a meaningful game for Philadelphia's postseason chances. We have your betting analysis and NHL pick here.

The Flyers sit one point back of the Bruins for the final playoff spot in the East with two to play. Pittsburgh, meanwhile, who accrued the second most points (104) in the conference, are slated to take on the Islanders—Philly's final opponent on Sunday—in the first round.

 

Pittsburgh Penguins (48-25-8, 104 pts)
Winners of eight straight, and 14 of their last 15 games, the Penguins are undeniably the hottest team in the NHL headed into the postseason. It's the fifth time they've stretched a winning streak this long since Sidney Crosby joined the club, and the longest since 2012.

The Pens are 3-0 in the season series after losing eight straight to the Flyers. Pittsburgh has won 11 of the last 14 games it has taken the puck averaging 0.4 goals or more versus the Flyers; 8-0 in Philly.

Pittsburgh puts more shots on goal than any team in the league with 33.4 per game. As one would guess, it has taken full advantage of defenses allowing a high number of shots on goal. The Flyers enter the game allowing 31.0 per game, seventh most in the NHL. Against teams yielding 30.2 or more, the Pens have 17 wins in 21 games, scoring 3.7 goals per tilt. They've scored four goals or more in 14 of the contests. From Philly's perspective, it has two wins in nine games against team peppering goalies with 31.5 shots or more per contest, allowing 3.1 goals on average.

Sidney Crosby, currently with 85 points, third-most in the NHL, is riding an eight-game point streak. The Pens have won just 11 of 28 games when he finishes with a goose egg; the UNDER is 19-6-3 in these contests. He notched 2 points twice and one lone goal in the three wins versus the Flyers this year. The Pens have scored 14 goals overall.

Jeff Zatkoff may man the pipes over first-teamer Matt Murray, despite the latter winning seven straight. Zatkoff has not hasn't played since February 20, losing a 4-2 home contest to the Lightning. He's 4-6-1 on the year with a .917 save percentage.

 

Philadelphia Flyers (39-27-14, 92 pts)
Philly is hoping to avoid another postseason snub after watching from home last season. If it misses the playoffs, it will be the first time the Flyers have failed at a chance to hoist the Cup two years in a row since the 1993-94 season. After picking up two points in nine of their last 11 home games, the Flyers dropped a critical one to the Maple Leafs 4-3 in overtime on Thursday. They need a victory tonight.

Gaolie Steve Mason is expected to start with Michal Nuevirth probably out for the rest of the season with knee injury. Mason has dropped three straight games, giving up 11 goals on 89 shots over the losing run.

Mason, despite his poor form, and 22-year-old defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere are arguably the two most important players on the squad this year, but veteran winger Wayne Simmonds' offensive production is vital for a Flyers victory. When held without a goal or assist on the night, Philly has won just seven games out of 37—only three in regulation time. He's picked up a point in 15 of 29 games against the Pens since joining the Flyers in 2011.

 

Final Analysis
Its tough to forecast how much effort the Penguins will put into this one. Their postseason future is written in stone, and they could pull their foot off the gas a little. On the other hand, they'd probably like to keep their rivals out of the playoff picture as well. My hunch is that coach Mike Sullivan will likely want to keep the machine well-oiled headed into the postseason. This is a must-win matchup for the Flyers. I'm not sure they can keep up with Pittsburgh, and will likely find themselves chasing most of the game. This should turn into a wide-open affair. The Pens sit at +110 on the NHL odds boards. which is at an excellent value. Don't be afraid to back the Pens as your NHL pick tonight.

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Free NHL Pick:  Pittsburgh +105
Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker