Metropolitan Division rivals meet on Sunday afternoon on NBC, as the Philadelphia Flyers visit the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Flyers are just behind the Penguins in the division but nothing is set, as just five points separate first from fourth place. The Flyers and Penguins have met three times this season and it has been all Pittsburgh, as they won by scores of 5-4, 5-1 and 5-2. Let’s look at this contest on Sunday and NHL picks.
Don't miss the ice action from PPG Paints Arena at 12:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 25, 2018. Catch every moment of the game live on NBC.
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The Flyers are still in decent shape to make the playoffs but they do face a very difficult four-game stretch of games, as they are at Pittsburgh on Sunday, at Dallas on Tuesday, at Colorado on Wednesday and then home next Sunday to Boston. If the Flyers are to secure a playoff spot they need to play better in the first period. They have led after the first period just 14 times in their first 74 games. “That’s something we’re not happy with,” said rookie defenseman Robert Hagg to the Philadelphia Inquirer, “We need to be more prepared going into the games.”
The Flyers have started to rely on goaltender Alex Lyon who was 3-2-1 with a 2.42 goals against average before the last game against the Rangers. Lyon has been more reliable than Petr Mrzaek who the Flyers traded for from Detroit. “He’s shown a real good level of ability to be performance-ready, whether it’s in a start or coming off the bench, which isn’t always the easiest scenario,” head coach Dave Hakstol said about Lyon. “He’s given us a chance each time to get back into a game.” Mrzaek has just a 3.27 goals against average and a .885 save percentage in 12 games with the Flyers.
Philadelphia is 19-18 on the road this season, with 19 games going over, 17 going under, with one push. They are scoring 3 goals per game and giving up 2.9 per contest.
The Penguins were 27-9 in their first 36 home games, with 20 games going over, 15 going under, with one push. They are scoring 3.3 goals per game and giving up 3 per contest. The Penguins have a favorable remaining schedule with four home games and three road games and one of those road games is at Detroit who is out of playoff contention.
The Flyers are struggling on special teams, as they are just 17th on the power play and a weak 27th in penalty killing. Those special teams could be the difference on Sunday because the Penguins have the top power play in the league at just over 26%. They are 16th in penalty killing at just over 80%.
The Penguins have won 7 of the last 10 meetings, with the last four going over the total. Pittsburgh has won three of the last four at home in this series after losing five straight. The last five games in Pittsburgh between the teams have gone over the total.
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Many people have already given the Flyers a playoff spot, but I don’t think they are a sure thing to make it. Despite Lyon playing pretty well in goal, the Flyers don’t have a marquee goaltender and it is tough to win in the NHL without a goaltender who makes big saves. The Flyers have struggled this season against the Penguins and I see no reason that will change on Sunday. Pittsburgh has Matt Murray back from injury and I expect he will get this start on Sunday and play at a high level. I will lay the price and take the Penguins in this Sunday matinee.
NHL Odds: Penguins 4, Flyers 2
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