The Philadelphia Flyers are in Pittsburgh tonight for the Battle of Pennsylvania against the Penguins. In what has been a lopsided rivalry, with the Penguins enjoying Stanley Cups and major success, the Flyers haven’t been to the Stanley Cup Final since 2010 against the Blackhawks. Then they had a memorable series against the Red Wings back in 1997.
Memorable for all the wrong reasons for the Flyers, as they were swept in four games to give the Red Wings their first Stanley Cup since 1955. The Wings won the next year as well, including in 2002 and 2008 for an impressive decade in Detroit. This year doesn’t appear to provide any hope of going to the Stanley Cup Final. In all likelihood, they won’t have a seat in the Final to try and grab their first Cup since 1975.
Philadelphia fans don’t have much patience when it comes to their sports teams. Some have already turned on the Eagles after just winning the Super Bowl less than a year ago. The fire Hakstol chants have echoed throughout West Fargo this season and are getting louder.
The Flyers are in the midst of a 1-6 run with their only win a 4-0 outlier against the Rangers. A shutout for the Flyers? Yeah, pretty crazy considering how badly their defence and goaltending has been. The goaltending issues aren’t Hakstol’s fault. Michal Neuvirth hasn’t played a game because of injury and Brian Elliott recently got moved to the IR. Even AHL replacement Alex Lyon has been banged up in Philadelphia.
The Golden Knights went through the same thing last season, though they just reinvented themselves and continued to win with Oscar Dansk in net. The Flyers are still trying to figure out how to do that. The Penguins haven’t been their hottest either, as they enter at 10-9-3. They are without Matt Murray, but he wasn’t performing at a quality level before going on the IR. Tristan Jerry and Casey DeSmith are splitting time in the meantime. Head below for our free Flyers vs. Penguins pick.
Philadelphia Flyers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins Pick
Tristan Jarry is the latest Penguin to take a beating in net, as the Pens fell by a score of 6-3 to the Avalanche. The Avs have been lighting the net on fire this season and Pittsburgh were their latest victims. Jarry allowed 5 goals on only 25 shots to watch his GAA fall to 3.50 and save percentage go to 0.887. DeSmith has performed the best out of three goaltenders, with a 2.41 GAA and 0.924 save percentage. Everybody has to be better defensively for the Penguins, though.
They’re not going to win anything by allowing 3.25 goals per game. Their offence is good once again this season. That’s going to happen with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on the same roster, but they can’t win a seven-game against a top-notch offence without some help defensively. In their last ten games, the Penguins have averaged 3.4 goals per game, while allowing 3.3 goals. It’s not really surprising to find that they have a record hovering around .500 then.
Philadelphia are 29th with 3.58 goals per game, so it could be worse for the Penguins. After the shutout against the Rangers, they got drilled for 10 goals in their next two games. Subtract that game and they’ve allowed 5.25 goals per game in their previous four outings. On the road it’s been worse as well, with 3.73 goals allowed on average. Conversely, Pittsburgh have actually been better on the road defensively. They have given up 3.67 per game in Pittsburgh. At least it’s been an entertaining product for those in attendance, I suppose. It’s likely not going to matter if the Flyers go with Pickard or Stolarz. Pickard is lucky to have a job and Stolarz should be in the minors.
The 24-year-old owns a 3.38 GAA and 0.898 save percentage, while Pickard is uglier with a 4.01 GAA and 0.863 save percentage. He’s just lucky that Neuvirth and Elliott haven’t been healthy. The last meeting between the Flyers and Penguins resulted in an 8-5 win for the Penguins. High-scoring games have been common between these two, with the OVER going 7-1-3 in their last eleven meetings. It probably isn’t going to be as easy to hit as the 8-5 game, but the OVER should be able to get there in Pittsburgh on Saturday.