The NHL season is back and it kicks off on Wednesday night. Five games will be up on the board throughout the opening night of the season. One of these matchups will be between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Philadelphia Flyers. These two rivals will look to start this season off right with a win. This game will drop the puck at around 5:30 PM Eastern time on NBCSN.
The Penguins finished out last season with a record of 40-23-6, which had them in third place of the Metropolitan Division. Pittsburgh met up with the Montreal Canadiens in the qualifying round and were shocked in a four game series. The Penguins are going to look to come out much stronger in this season though as they look to bounce back.
Philadelphia put up a record of 41-21-7 throughout last season, which helped them finish in second place of the Metropolitan Division. The Flyers knocked off the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the playoffs, but were eliminated by the New York Islanders in the second round. Philadelphia will look to continue to grow this season as they start with a matchup against Pittsburgh.
These two teams were strong throughout the regular season last season, but it was the Penguins who were eliminated early in the postseason. Pittsburgh will look to get some revenge to open up this season as Crosby and Malkin look to make another push. They are both in a tough division, which means that these wins mean a lot early in the season.
The Penguins and the Flyers met up three times throughout last season. Pittsburgh hosted the first game on October 29. Oskar Lindblom scored the lone goal for Philadelphia, but that was not enough. Sidney Crosby, Dominik Kahun and Dominik Simon all had a goal and two assists. Matt Murray stopped 29 of 30 shots as the Penguins earned a big 7-1 win.
Philadelphia hosted the second game of the season series on January 21. Jakub Voracek and James van Riemsdyk both scored for the Flyers in the second period to give Philadelphia a nice lead. Justin Braun was able to finish out the game with an empty netter. Brian Elliot stopped all 19 shots he faced to help Philadelphia bounce back with a 3-0 win.
The final game of the season series was in Pittsburgh on January 31. Tyler Pitlick had a goal and an assist, while Matt Niskanen had two assists on the night. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin both had a goal and two assists. Kris Letang and Bryan Rust had a goal and an assist to help the Penguins. Sidney Crosby scored the game winner in overtime to life Pittsburgh to a 4-3 win.
The Penguins were able to win the season series 2-1 last season with one of those wins coming in overtime. The home team won all three of the games last season, but home ice advantage is pretty much gone now with no fans. Pittsburgh will look to come out quick in this one as they try to knock off the Flyers to open up the season series.
Pittsburgh was very active this offseason after a disappointing exit last season. The Penguins lost Patric Hornqvist, Matt Murray, Nick Bjugstad, Justin Schultz, Patrick Marleau and Conor Sheary this offseason. Pittsburgh added Kasperi Kapanen, Mike Matheson, Colton Sceviour and Evan Rodrigues. The Penguins will look to their new additions to help them bounce back early in this season.
The Flyers spent most of their offseason keeping the core together. Philadelphia resigned all their key players throughout this season, which should help them repeat some of their success last season. The Flyers lost Matt Niskanen to retirement, which will hurt their defense coming into this one. Philadelphia will look to fill that with someone like Erik Gustafsson, who they added this offseason.
The Penguins had a much busier offseason, which I think could help them improve coming into this season. If Kapanen can produce in the top six with Crosby and Malkin, it will really help propel the Penguins back into contention. The loss of Murray could hurt them a lot, but they will look for Tristan Jarry to take that starting role over in stride.
Tristan Jarry will likely get the nod in the crease for the Penguins in this one. Jarry earned a record of 20-12-1 throughout last season. He finished the regular season with a save percentage of .921 and a GAA of 2.43. Jarry put up a .952 save percentage and a 1.02 GAA in his one start in the playoffs. Pittsburgh will look for him to step up early in this season as he has all the pressures of being a starter on him.
Carter Hart will get the start in the net for Philadelphia on Wednesday night. Hart had a strong showing throughout last season. He put up a record of 24-13-3 throughout his starts. Hart finished the regular season with a .914 save percentage and a GAA of 2.42. He posted a save percentage of .926 and a 2.23 GAA through the postseason.
These two goalies had strong showings throughout last season, which should lead to a good game in this one. Jarry will look to put the doubters in their place with a strong start to this season. The Penguins will need him to show up early and often if they want to make it back to the playoffs. I expect Hart to come out strong though as he continues to grow his game.
These two teams are looking to get this season started hot as they meet their divisional foe on Wednesday night. I think that both teams will come out hot to open up the new season, which should lead to a great game on January 13. The Penguins are coming into this one after making a lot of moves in the offseason, which they will look to pay off early.
BetOnline has the Flyers listed as a -110 against the money line in this one. This gives a slight edge to Philadelphia to earn a win on Wednesday night. I think Pittsburgh will come out with a chip on their shoulder in this one after an early exit in the qualifiers in August. The Penguins still have a strong core, which I think will help propel them to an opening night win.