It will certainly be a unique 2021 NHL season, and one of the impacts of a condensed 56-game schedule will be added familiarity with your rivals, and playing the same team quite often in back-to-back spots.
Following a 6-3 loss to the Flyers on Opening Night, the Pittsburgh Penguins will look to shake off a dismal third period defensive outing in an attempt to reverse their fortunes just two evenings later. For much of that game, the Pens skated well and held their own against a deep Flyers’ attack, but some shoddy play without the puck and suspect goaltending from Tristan Jarry proved to be their downfall.
Philly enters this season with big hopes of being victorious in what is proving to already be a very tightly contested East Division. They can roll lines with the best of teams, and a strengthened defense coupled with steady goaltending from youngster Carter Hart, has allowed the Flyers to emerge as one of the NHL’s main contenders.
Beating the same team however twice in a row has always proven to be a difficult task in the variant-driven National Hockey League, and with minor tweaks expected from both sides – expect the Penguins to deliver more intensity in game two of this shortened season. For further detail and team analysis, read on beneath the posted odds for a full breakdown and betting analysis for this all-Pennsylvania showdown.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Philadelphia Flyers Betting Odds:
Pittsburgh Penguins (-110)
Philadelphia Flyers (-110)
Over 6 (-110)
Under 6 (-110)
*Betting odds provided by BetOnline.ag
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Philadelphia Flyers Pick:
While the Penguins dropped their opening night contest to these same Philadelphia Flyers, the NHL can be an awfully variance-based league, and it has proven tough traditionally to beat the same team in back-to-back contests.
The Penguins were actually the better team for long stretches of their season opener, and ended up controlling 5v5 play, boasting a 57% corsi for percentage to Philadelphia. They also held the higher rate of scoring chances, and expected goals – and had it not been for a jittery third period defense, and a suspect performance from Tristan Jarry – the Pens represented great value.
In the second game of the season, don’t be surprised to see Pittsburgh head coach Mike Sullivan go right away to the perceived backup, Casey DeSmith. While DeSmith is the number two, he isn’t far behind Jarry at all in terms of ability, and has put up similar professional stats to date. A motivated DeSmith might see a chance to seize the net for the high-octane Pens, and Friday evening represents a solid opportunity.
For the Flyers, don’t expect too many changes, if any, from Wednesday’s opening lineup. Philadelphia excels with great forward depth, and though their defensive play can be suspect at times, they often get bailed out with great goaltending from youngster Carter Hart.
There is very little separating these sides, but the narrative-driven motivation angle tilts the needle to a Pittsburgh team that is too talented and too proud to lose two straight to their Pennsylvania rivals. In this congested, only-division based schedule, losing two straight contests to the same team can have adverse consequences later on in the season, and don’t expect the likes of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to accept another defeat.
Pittsburgh was the better team in the first game, and should be able to again use their speed to overwhelm the Flyers’ defense corps – spending much of the game in the attacking zone. Expect the Pens to make the required defensive adjustments, and assuming they receive an average save percentage on Friday evening, they show great value to bounceback against Philly.