We get back to the NHL tonight, after focusing on football over the weekend. There wasn’t much on the card yesterday, and all I had were a couple of leans which of course ended up hitting. I thought there would be a bigger card tonight, but there are a couple of notable games, including the Flyers and Penguins, and Ducks and Blackhawks.
The Penguins and Blackhawks, who always rank among Stanley Cup favorites, haven’t gotten off to quick starts. The Pens certainly haven’t looked like defending champions, and the Blackhawks aren’t playing like a team who won the Stanley Cup in 2010 and 2015. You almost expect the Blackhawks and Penguins to flip on a switch and start rolling through the competition. It’s hard to argue that they don’t eventually put it together, but the Pens issues on the defence are real. At their current pace, the Penguins would miss out on the playoffs completely.
Goaltender Matt Murray must do a better job as well. The Penguins used to have the luxury of going with either Murray or Marc-Andre Fleury. With Fleury getting drafted by Vegas, for better or worse, the job is all Murray’s. He has shown numerous times that he is a starting goaltender in the NHL, but we’ll see if he can handle the pressure of being the primary number 1 in Pittsburgh for the first year of his career. The Pens enter at 12-10-2, and are coming off a big 5-2 win over the Lightning to snap a three-game skid. The Flyers are looking to snap a skid of their own, which has ballooned to a seven-game losing streak. Get our free Flyers vs. Penguins pick below.
Philadelphia Flyers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins Pick
Matt Murray comes into Monday night with a GAA of 2.94 and 0.906 save percentage. As a goaltender in the NHL, you really don’t want to watch the GAA soar above 3.00 and the save percentage drop below 0.90. Two or three bad starts and it could push his numbers that way. The Penguins’ offence has been scoring at a healthy clip to keep them above .500 on the season. Sidney Crosby is 34th in the league with 22 points thus far. I wouldn’t worry too much about Crosby. He’s been in slumps before, and then all of the sudden is playing like the best a few weeks later.
It’s been devastating in the defensive zone for the Pens, as they’re allowing 3.40 goals per game. Note that’s 28th in the NHL. To defend their Stanley Cup, the defence must do a better job than how they’ve been playing. It’s only November, though, so there is plenty of time to figure it out. The Flyers have given up an average of 4.75 goals per game in their last four, allowing 5 goals in three of the four. In the last four meetings between the Flyers and Pens in Pittsburgh, there was an average of 7.25 goals scored per game. The OVER went 4-0. Additionally, the OVER is 5-2-1 in their last eight meetings overall. The Penguins scored 5 on the Lightning on Saturday, and I expect them to find the back of the net in similar fashion tonight. If you’re looking for a hockey pick on Monday night, I’d take a look at the OVER in this contest.
PICK: OVER 5.5 (-120)