For most teams in the NHL, today is the end of the road, or just the beginning for some. In the last day of a full schedule in the NHL, things are going to become a clearer for the playoffs. The Red Wings, Bruins, and Flyers have been jockeying for position for countless weeks now. The picture is about as clear as it was three weeks ago, though. The Flyers do have that extra game in their back pocket, as they play tomorrow as well as today. Philadelphia hosts the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday afternoon and then turn their attention to the Islanders tomorrow on the road.
The Isles are set in their ways, and appear to have a meeting in the first round with the Pens set-up, so they have the opportunity to feel better about themselves by sending the Flyers packing. The current snapshot of the standings, provides a bunched group of hopefuls. The Red Wings enter Saturday with 93 points, the Bruins with 93, and the Flyers have 92. The Flyers have control of their own destiny. Two wins would clinch a ticket to the playoffs.
Needless to say, there is a lot to be settled on Saturday. However, conversely, you’ll find some games which are nothing more than glorified exhibition contests. Last night was one of them, as the Columbus Blue Jackets and Buffalo Sabres toiled to a 4-1 final score in favor of the Jackets. The Sabres opted for a college goaltender, a guy who has never had a professional start, not in the NHL or minor leagues. Just like in the preseason, it’s difficult to forecast what coaches are going to do in games like that.
The best play there, probably should have been a no play. Another team who would love to derail the Flyers is their rival, the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins and Flyers meet today, as Philadelphia is still seeking out a playoff berth, and the Pens look for a playoff tune-up. Continue to read below, where I provide my NHL pick for Saturday, the last Saturday in the NHL regular season.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Philadelphia Flyers NHL Pick
The Flyers will have to contend with the hottest offense in the NHL today. The Penguins have been on fire, lighting the net up, and looking like the team who captured the Stanley Cup several years ago. The Penguins are the hottest team in the league heading into the playoffs, they’ve won eight straight games and are 9-1 in their last ten games. The Leafs are happy about this little spurt for the Penguins as well. Due to Pittsburgh reaching the playoffs, the Leafs will get the Penguins first-round pick in the draft. The Flyers are coming off an ugly loss to the Leafs in overtime, but do at least get 1 point out of that one.
Could the Flyers have been looking ahead to today? As important as the Leafs game was, I think the Flyers knew this race was going to come down to this weekend. They now have two games to make something happen. For the Penguins, is there an issue here of being too hot? It sounds absurd, but the Penguins are going to lose sooner or later. Do we expect them to stay this hot for the next few weeks? In a weird way, they may want to get a loss out of the way before the playoffs arrive.
I’m not saying they’re going to lose this game on purpose, but I think from an effort perspective, the Flyers should be the team that comes out on fire. That formula doesn’t always translate to a win, but I feel does account for a lot in this spot. They have to be feeling embarrassed after throwing away a point against the worst team in the league on Thursday. Look for a different Flyers team today, who should win and end the Penguins four-game winning streak, and head to Brooklyn tomorrow while the Bruins and Wings have the day off.
PICK: FLYERS TO WIN -123