For the final time this season, the Pittsburgh Penguins (34-16-3) and Philadelphia Flyers (23-22-7) will face off Tuesday night. After six wins in seven games, the second-place Penguins fell 7-2 on Monday to the Flyers, who ended up snapping their three-game losing streak.
Philly has ended up winning five of their seven matchups against Pittsburgh this season, Monday’s the biggest yet. However, Pittsburgh is still a comfortable -176 favorite on the road, while Philadelphia is a +148 home underdog.
By the Numbers
The Penguins own the advantage in several key offensive categories. Pittsburgh is fourth in the NHL with 3.34 goals per game on just over 30 shots while also carrying a 22.6 percent power play rate to rank eighth. Meanwhile, Philadelphia is just 16th with 2.85 goals per game on around 30 shots and ranks 19th with a 19.6 percent power play rate.
Defensively, Philly has the league’s most goals allowed per game with 3.54. Contrast that with Pittsburgh, whose 2.79 goals allowed is 13th in the league. Both teams struggle on the penalty kill, however, with the Penguins earning a slight 77.5 to 72.6 percent advantage.
Players to Watch
Once again, center Sidney Crosby is leading the way for the Penguins. The captain delivered his 21st goal of the season on Monday, snapping a three-game point drought and increasing his total point to 57.
Crosby has one fewer goal than the team leaders Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust. The left wing Guentzel closed out April with points in five of his last six games, while Rust scored his 99th and 100th career goals in Saturday’s shutout win over the Capitals.
Other names for Pittsburgh include defenseman Kris Letang, right wing Kasperi Kapanen, and center Evgeni Malkin. Letang’s three assists in his last four games have brought him up to 35 assists and 42 points, while Kapanen is now at 27 points after two goals and two assists in the last week. Then there’s Malkin, who returned on Monday after missing 23 games and netted an assist, his 25th point on the season.
Turning to the Flyers, right wing Jakub Voracek is the team leader in points. The play-making veteran has nine assists in his last six games and points in six of his last seven, giving a team-high 34 assists and 43 points.
Trailing Voracek in points is the veteran duo of center Claude Giroux and left wing James van Riemsdyk. Giroux potted two goals and an assist on Monday to give him 16 goals and 23 assists, tying him in both with van Riemsdyk, who is looking to snap his four-game point drought.
Left wing Joel Farabee, center Sean Couturier, and defenseman Shayne Gostibehere are a few others to keep an eye on. Farabee had a three-point night on Monday, including his team-leading 17th goal, while Coutier now has points in five of his last six to move him up to 37 total points for the season. Meanwhile, Gostisbehere has missed 13 games for Philly, including a few recent ones, but has earned points in both games since coming back on Saturday.
With Casey DeSmith in net Monday, it’s Tristan Jarry’s time to shine on Tuesday for the Penguins. Jarry is 23-9-3, carrying a 2.70 GAA and .911 save percentage to go with two shutouts.
With Carter Hart done for the year, the Flyers have alternated between Brian Elliott and Alex Lyon. Tuesday, it’ll be Elliott in net, as the vet is 13-8-2 with a 3.02 GAA and .890 save percentage.
On Monday, the Flyers got out to a 4-0 lead, while the Penguins failed to score at even strength. It was a dominant effort for Philadelphia, who outshout their opponent 45-37 and crushed them by 25 in the faceoff circle.
Tuesday should be much closer, with Jarry back in net for Pittsburgh and Elliott struggling for on the other side. However, something should be said for Philly winning five out of the seven matchups between these teams this season, clearly showing they have the Penguins’ number a bit.
I will take Pittsburgh to win with caution but would like to see if the odds decrease a little bit from where they are on Tuesday morning before betting.
Pick: Penguins -176