Penguins Have Dominated Flyers This Season, Will Again in Game 1

Tuesday, April 10, 2018 12:41 PM UTC

Tuesday, Apr. 10, 2018 12:41 PM UTC

The 2018 Stanley Cup playoffs open Wednesday night with the lone Eastern Conference matchup featuring Philadelphia looking to pull the Game 1 upset at rival Pittsburgh.

Game 1: Philadelphia (98 points) at Pittsburgh (100 points)Free NHL Pick: Penguins & OverBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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The puck drops on three Game 1s around the NHL playoffs on Wednesday night. All eyes will be on Pittsburgh (7 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network) as the Penguins begin their quest to become the first team since the dynastic New York Islanders of the early 1980s to win three straight Stanley Cup. The Penguins host rival Philadelphia, a city with some pretty good sports karma of late. There was the Eagles’ upset victory over New England in the Super Bowl, Villanova’s dominant win over Michigan in the basketball national championship game, and now the 76ers are rampaging through the Eastern Conference.

On the series line at Bovada, Pittsburgh is -230 and Philadelphia +190. The Penguins are +450 to win the East, behind Boston (+250) and Tampa Bay (+300), yet ahead of Washington (+650) even though the Capitals finished ahead of the Pens in the Metropolitan Division. Then again, that didn’t matter much the past two seasons.

The Flyers missed the playoffs last year and improved by 10 points this season, finishing third in the Metro. They are +1600 to win the East. Philly hasn’t advanced past the first round of the postseason since 2012. That was also the last time the Flyers and Penguins faced off for extra hockey, with Philly winning 4-2 in the conference quarterfinals.

The Flyers are 1-5 in their past six trips to Pittsburgh.

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Penguins Swept Series in Regular Season

Pittsburgh swept the regular-season series by a combined score of 20-11. The Penguins scored exactly five goals in each game. Two were routs but two finished 5-4 in overtime, including the last meeting on March 25 in Pittsburgh. Sidney Crosby had nine points (two goals) vs. Philly and has 38 goals and 93 points in 63 career regular-season outings vs. Philadelphia.

No. 1 netminder Matt Murray played in three of the games and started two, going 1-0-0 with a 2.93 goals-against average and .923 save percentage. The Penguins are likely to play as many as 13 players who have been part of the two Cup runs. One guy who wasn’t was big trade acquisition Derick Brassard. The former Senator hasn’t played since March 27 due to a lower-body injury but was at practice this week and thus should go. He’s a noted strong playoff performer with 22 goals and 55 points in 78 games.

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The battle is set.

Check out the complete schedule for the first round:

— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) April 9, 2018

The Flyers got No. 1 goaltender Brian Elliott back from a nearly two-month injury absence for the final two games of the season. He was OK in his return last Thursday vs. Carolina but then shut out the Rangers on Saturday. He finished the regular season with a 23-11-7 record, .909 save percentage and 2.66 GAA but had a 5.31 GAA and .864 SV in two games vs. the Penguins.

Philly will need a monster series from Hart Trophy candidate Claude Giroux to have a shot at the upset. He finished second in the NHL with 102 points, a career high. He became the first member of the Flyers to reach the 100-point plateau since Eric Lindros in 1995-96. Giroux also had his first career regular-season hat trick in the win over the Rangers. Pretty hard to believe that was his first. Giroux had four points, all assists, vs. the Pens.

Until the Flyers can prove they can beat the Pens, keep riding the champs. I also will be playing a parlay with an ‘over’ for an NHL pick. It’s 5-0 in the past five meetings and 23-9 in Pittsburgh’s past 32 games overall.

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