The banged up Pittsburgh Penguins head into Philadelphia for a Monday night meeting with the Flyers. Pittsburgh are coming off a 3-2 loss against the Florida Panthers. Bad loss for the Penguins who have looked different since Evgeni Malkin went down with an injury. Malkin lent a huge hand in their 4-2 win over the Lightning on January 30th, but he’s been out since and the Penguins have won just one game in four outings.
They’re currently on a three-game losing streak, with losses to the Maple Leafs, Hurricanes, and Panthers. Malkin was placed on the IR, though the Penguins do not expect the injury to linger for an extended period. He is not expected to be a participant tonight against the Flyers tonight, but news is good on defenceman Justin Schultz playing.
Schultz has been absent for a while. His last game came against the Canadiens on October 13th. Schultz played just four games to open the season before he went down and has been out ever since. His presence on the blue line should help right away. Along with Schultz, Matt Murray is expected to be back in the crease tonight.
He played in a backup capacity to Casey DeSmith against the Panthers while giving him an extra game off. If it was an emergency, Murray would have been able to play, though. The Penguins hope they will be able to avoid the injury bug down the stretch, because I think it’s going to take a healthy roster to do any damage or even go to the playoffs for that matter. Pittsburgh are currently 8th in the Eastern Conference with 63 points. The Hurricanes trail by just a point for the final playoff seed. Head below for our free Penguins vs. Flyers pick.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Philadelphia Flyers Pick
DeSmith did his part against the Panthers, but his offence failed to do much against Luongo. The offence looks out of sorts without Malkin inserted in it. He’s a big body that is missing on the second line behind Crosby. Nick Bjugstad was injured against the Lightning on Saturday and it’s unclear if he will play on Monday against the Flyers. He left the contest and was unable to return to action.
It doesn’t appear serious, but there is a possibility he misses tonight which would put more of a strain on the offence to perform. Their depth will be tested against Carter Hart who has been eyeing a Vezina at just 20 years of age. I don’t see why he shouldn’t be up for the award. Win it all? Likely not, but he should be a candidate, especially if he leads the Flyers all the way to the playoffs after looking dead in the water. He will have to bring his numbers up in the next couple of months.
Hart owns a 2.45 GAA and 0.926 save percentage this season, with some of his best performances coming recently. Hart has surrendered just 2 goals per game in his last six appearances. In those six games, he gave up more than 2 goals only once, which came against the Oilers. The Flyers have allowed just 2.1 goals per game in their last ten outings, a total 180 from what they were doing earlier in the season.
With Malkin most likely absent again, the Pens are probably going to find it tough to score on Hart. They’ve scored just 4 goals in their last three games. Four of their last five games have gone UNDER the total, while the Flyers have gone UNDER the total in five of their previous seven. Two of their last three meetings resulted in final scores of 4-2. Also, there have been less than 7 goals scored in five of their last six meetings. The Battle of Pennsylvania is usually a physical rivalry. That should be no different on Monday evening. I’d look at the UNDER in a 4-2 or 3-2 game in Philadelphia tonight.