NHL playoff betting action kicks off at 7:30 ET on Wednesday night in the Steel City, where the Pittsburgh Penguins will look to take down the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 1 of the 4/5 series in the Eastern Conference.
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If history is any indication, the Flyers are going to struggle in net here in the playoffs. Even when they were in the Stanley Cup Finals two years ago, Head Coach Peter Laviolette never really knew whether his starting net minder was going to end up making it through a game. This year, the team hopes to have all of those problems sorted out with Ilya Bryzgalov in the pipes. Bryzgalov had the weight of the Phoenix Coyotes on him for the last several years, and at times, he was the only thing that kept them going. That being said, he hasn’t really had the best luck in the postseason when push has come to shove, but he has been a heck of a lot more consistent than the likes of Michael Leighton, Brian Boucher, and the team’s current backup net minder, Sergei Bobrovsky. This is the toughest series that Bryzgalov could have asked for, and it rivals recent series that the Coyotes have had to play against the Detroit Red Wings. The defense just hasn’t been the same this year without Chris Pronger for the mass majority of the campaign, and this unit is going to be tested to the nth degree, especially if the offense can’t keep up this relatively torrid pace.
It’s not all that often that a team is the No. 4 seed in a conference and is the favorite to win the Stanley Cup Finals, but that’s the case with the Penguins. And perhaps it comes with good reason. The team is talented offensively, knowing that Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and James Neal are sharing the ice for the first time as a trio for an extended period of time. In that run, the Pens went on a tremendous run, including an 11-game winning streak that took them from the verge of missing the playoffs to the verge of winning the Presidents’ Trophy. Malkin, who is sure to be the Hart Memorial Trophy winner this year, is just one of the many Penguins that have tremendous playoff experience, and there is still a stinging sensation in the minds of this team, which lost in the first round of the playoffs last year to the Tampa Bay Lightning after taking a 3-1 series lead. Marc-Andre Fleury has had some ups and some downs in his playoff career, but he does have two Stanley Cup Finals appearances and a cup to his name, and he is going to be under the gun against one of the most underappreciated offenses that the league has to offer this year.
Philadelphia Flyers @ Pittsburgh Penguins Pick: The Flyers have proven that they have what it takes to win here in the Steel City, and you know they won’t be intimidated, as this is the third game that these teams have played at this venue in the last week and a half. This is a game that the visitors have the ability to steal.
Free Hockey Pick: Philadelphia Flyers +160
Aaron Ryan has been in the sportswriting biz since the late-90s, and he has worked side by side with some of the best and brightest in sports gambling. Always searching for the best trends in sports, Andrew uses his brilliant math mind to his advantage to beat the books.