The Pittsburgh Penguins are playoff-bound while the Philadelphia Flyers aren’t, but nonetheless it was the latter that took the impressive win on Monday night despite the contrasting reality of their respective seasons. In a quick turnaround scenario, a repeat date less than 24 hours later, the overriding question is whether the Flyers can do it again? Can they capitalize with another win over the Penguins, if only to play spoilsports?
Find out as we at SBR examine the matchup, along with corresponding NHL betting markets, and serve up a prediction to consider.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Philadelphia Flyers
Tuesday, May 04, 2021 – 07:00 PM EDT at Wells Fargo Center
More Important Fish To Fry?
The Pittsburgh Penguins are coming off a 7-2 evisceration at the Wells Fargo Center, totally and completely steamrolled by the Flyers. After which the Penguins’ form fell to a 7-3-0 mark in their last ten games while their overall record slipped to 34-16-3 on the season with 71 points, thus tying the Washington Capitals at the top of the standings.
The game marked the return of Evgeni Malkin, who’d missed over a month due to injury. His return is both timely and temporarily disruptive at the same time. It’s timely because he returns just in time for the playoffs where his experience and leadership will be most invaluable. It’s temporarily disruptive because it upsets the chemistry that the Penguins have enjoyed in his absence.
There were different line-ups as a result of his return, causing the Penguins to look somewhat disorientated, if not dishevelled at the start. Indeed, it took the Penguins the better part of two periods to adjust, and not until the third period did they seem to finally click on offense when they scored their only two goals of the game.
On the other hand, one could also argue there was a level of disinterest in the game that ultimately helped turn the tables quite spectacularly against the Penguins. After all, the Penguins are headed to the playoffs and with just one more two-game set to contend with after Tuesday (against the Buffalo Sabres), it’s possible they were looking ahead to the postseason, to more important fish to fry. Not for nothing are the Penguins considered as one of several top bets in Stanley Cup Futures.
Suppose that the Penguins finding a late-game surge is somewhat encouraging but it’s important to consider two key aspects: a) they got some help from the Flyers who gifted four consecutive penalties early in the fourth quarter and b) they failed to score an even-strength goal on the night. Sidney Crosby capitalized on the power-play by scoring Pittsburgh’s first goal of the game and then Jason Zucker took advantage by scoring Pittsburgh’s second goal on the power-play.
If there’s any incentive for the Penguins to win Tuesday’s repeat against the Flyers it would be the title race. The Penguins are in the hunt for the East Division title along with the Washington Capitals but the latter has the game-in-hand. If the Penguins hope to keep the race alive, they can’t drop their last three games. On balance, the Penguins have the easier schedule down the stretch with dates against the Flyers and Sabres. The Capitals have the Rangers, Flyers (twice) and the Bruins.
Playing For Pride
The Flyers are technically done and done for the 2020-21 season, out of contention with little to play for save pride down the stretch. And didn’t they. Show plenty of pride Monday, delivering the upset against the NHL odds.
It’s not often a team can get seven goals past the Penguins. That the Penguins came out flat and were out of sorts must have played a part in that lopsided outcome. However, let’s not take everything away from the Flyers because they put in a gutsy effort over the course of the three quarters. Claude Giroux led the team with two goals and an assist while Joel Farabee scored a goal and had two assists. Elsewhere, Kevin Hayes, Robert Hagg, Wade Allison and Shane Gostisbehere each added a goal.
On paper, the Flyers are no match for the Penguins. They’re currently ranked sixth in the East Division with a 23-22-7 record on the season and 53 points. That mark includes a modest 11-11-4 record at home. In their last ten games, they strike a subpar 4-5-1 pose while on the entire season they’ve been outscored 151-188.
And yet, interestingly, the Flyers have had the Penguins’ number this season. Monday’s win accounts for their fifth win in the last seven meetings this season and third-straight win over the Penguins, which is altogether a pretty solid record against a top opponent by any team never mind the modest Flyers.
NHL Predictions and Picks
Few would have predicted that the Flyers would mastermind Monday’s upset when they had so little to play for, but so they did. Of course, it’s one thing to do it once. Another entirely to attempt to do it twice, in back-to-back games. Put it this way, it would be quite the stunner if the Flyers do.
If the Penguins took their eye off the prize, they paid for it with a most embarrassing loss on the road to the Flyers. It’s not the kind of beatdown a team wants to experience just before the playoffs, especially if they’re to be taken seriously in the competition.
There’s something to be said about being mindful of the playoffs and avoiding unnecessary risk and injury at this state, but the Penguins are the type of team that typically finds ways to bounce back sensibly. They’ll be eager to bounce back anyway because of its importance in the race for the title. As well, winning after such a loss will send a message to the field just ahead of the playoffs.
As it is, the Penguins are trading as high as -170 in moneyline betting markets to win straight up but that’s a steep bet for NHL picks considering what just transpired. The puckline though provides a better alternative with bettors getting better bang for their buck on a two-goal win. That’s of course assuming there’s agreement that the Penguins will win tonight and do so convincingly.
*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.