Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#41 Pittsburgh Penguins 6 vs.
#42 Philadelphia Flyers -110
Wednesday, January 13, 2021 at 5:35pm EST
Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia
Written by Valdis Pans

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The new 2020-21 NHL season kicks off with the opening contest of the newly formed East Division, as the Pittsburgh Penguins pay a visit to the Philadelphia Flyers.

Goodbye, Murray! High Hopes On Jarry!

The Pittsburgh Penguins will kick off the 2020-21 season with a road game against the Philadelphia Flyers after failing to qualify for the actual playoffs last year, being eliminated in four outings (1-3) by the Montreal Canadiens during the qualifying round. The Pens finished the previous regular season in the 3rd place of the Metropolitan Division and 5th in the Eastern Conference, having amassed a 40-23-6 showing. Evgeni Malkin led the team with 74 points (25 goals, 49 assists), while Bryan Rust (56 points) had netted the most markers (27). Malkin has collected 73 points (28 goals, 45 helpers) in 58 career appearances against Philly.

With Matt Murray having departed to the Ottawa Senators, Tristan Jarry is the new de facto No. 1 of the Pens. He had a solid season last year (20-12-1 with a 2.43 GAA, a .921 save percentage and three shutouts), and is 4-1-0 versus Flyers historically with a 2.49 GAA and a .912 save percentage. Alongside Murray, Patrick Marleau (now of the San Jose Sharks), Justin Schultz and Conor Sheary (both - Washington Capitals) are among the high-profile departures, while Mark Jankowski (Calgary Flames), Evan Rodrigues and Codi Ceci (both from the Toronto Maple Leafs) are bringing in some new blood. Pittsburgh ended last year, scoring the 10th highest amount of goals per game (3.20), while allowing the 11th lowest quantity in their defensive zone (2.84). The team was 16th in power play with a 19.9% success rate and 8th in penalty kill with 82.1% efficiency.

Will Flyers Continue Great Form?

The Philadelphia Flyers finished the 2019-20 regular campaign on a high (2nd in the Metropolitan Division and 4th in the Eastern Conference with a 41-21-7 record) and had their best postseason in the last eight years. After beating the Boston Bruins (4-1), Washington Capitals (3-1) and eventual champions Tampa Bay Lightning (4-1) in the seeding round robin, Philly went as far as to the Second Round, ultimately being eliminated by the New York Islanders in seven games (4-3) following a 4-2 series win versus the Montreal Canadiens in the First Round. Travis Konecny led the team with 24 regular-season snipes on top of 61 points, adding further seven assists during the playoffs.

Goalie Carter Hart went 24-13-3 throughout the regular campaign, posting a 2.42 GAA, a .914 save percentage and one shutout, and was 9-5 during the postseason with a 2.23 GAA, a .926 save percentage and two shutouts. He has registered a 1-1-0 previous total against the Pittsburgh Penguins with a 2.15 GAA and a .936 save percentage. Defenseman Erik Gustafsson (Calgary Flames) has come in to strengthen the team’s blue line, while Tyler Pitlick (now of the Arizona Coyotes) and Nate Thompson (Winnipeg Jets) are among the departures. Philadelphia ended last regular season, netting the 7th highest number of goals per game (3.29), while conceding the 7th lowest amount defensively (2.77). The team was 14th in power play (20.8%) and 11th in penalty kill (81.8%).

Best Bets for this Game

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With Matt Murray out of the picture, the Penguins will start a season with someone other than Murray or Marc-Andre Fleury as their No. 1 goalie for the first time in 15 years. That definitely puts quite a pressure on the 25-year-old shoulders of Tristan Jarry, who had a pretty good season last year, but still managed to finish it with a 0-4-0 record in his last four starts, allowing a total of 18 goals along the way. Flyers, on the other hand, have definitely got less stress with their own 22-year-old No. 1! Carter Hart impressed both during the last regular season (24-13-3) and throughout the playoffs (.940 even-strength save percentage), and has undoubtedly become the game-changing piece Philadelphia had been looking for during the past few years. Hart’s presence definitely gives Philly an advantage over the Penguins, who have won just two of their past five meetings with the Flyers, losing their last two trips to the City of Brotherly Love.

Prediction: Philadelphia Flyers (-120)

Full-Game Total Pick

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Six of the last nine head-to-head encounters between the Flyers and the Penguins have all gone above the set goal-mark, averaging no less than 7.83 strikes per fixture. So, banking on another high-scoring bout here is definitely a pretty decent proposition! When playing on Wednesdays, Philadelphia has already cruised over the total on four of the past five occasions, while the very last five regular-season games of the Pens have all delivered when it comes to scoring, with an average of 7.60 markers netted throughout those contests.

Prediction: Over 6
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Written By Valdis Pans , "Valdis Pans"

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