Pittsburgh Penguins (26-12-6) at Philadelphia Flyers (18-21-7)
|Date & Time||Tuesday January 20, 2015, 7:30 PM (EST)|
The Line: Philadelphia Flyers +144 / Pittsburgh Penguins -160 --- Over/Under: 5.5
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The Philadelphia have one more game before they reach the All-Star break in what has been an enormously disappointing first half of the season. Clearly there were problems on this club heading into the season but factoring in the injuries and the absurd coaching of Craig Berube and this team has been an absolute mess for the most part. Miraculously the Flyers are still only 11 points out of a playoff spot, but anyone who has seen them play this season should know that they’re as good as dead this year. Monday afternoon they tried to build on their most recent victory over the Buffalo Sabres, but things went down hill quickly after the puck was dropped. Philadelphia allowed the New York Islanders to open the scoring just 1:32 into the game and it was an uphill climb the rest of the day. New York held a 2-0 lead with the Flyers on the power play early in the second when they added to their margin with a shorthanded goal. Mark Streit would answer back for Philadelphia and Michael Del Zotto added a second period goal as well, but the Flyers still trailed by three heading into the third. Claude Giroux’s 15th of the season made it a 5-3 deficit before the Islanders put the game away. Chris VandeVelde also scored for Philadelphia in the 7-4 loss. Rob Zepp was pulled from the after allowing four goals on 20 shots in the loss. Now if there’s one good thing for the Flyers heading into Tuesday night it’s that they get their old pals the Pittsburgh Penguins coming to town. For whatever reason the Flyers always seem to play better against Pittsburgh than they do against just about any other club in the league. Pittsburgh is banged up as well but unlike Philadelphia they’ve found ways to continue to win games.
Despite their ability to play shorthanded this season the Penguins have sputtered a bit as they head into the break. Sunday’s loss at home to the New York Rangers was their fourth in their last six games and they’ve dropped behind the New York Islanders into second place in the Metropolitan Division standings. Sunday we saw some of the problems that have been plaguing the Penguins and one of those is the white elephant in the room that is Marc-Andre Fleury. Depsite his All-Star selection this season and impressive numbers, Fleury still leaves doubt in just about every Penguins fan’s head when it comes to how he’s going to perform in a big spot. Against the Rangers he allowed a goal less than 30 seconds in to Rick Nash that he probably should have made the save on. Derick Brassard added to New York’s total and though the puck took a strange bounce before getting to him it didn’t look like Fleury was comfortable at all in net. Sidney Crosby got Pittsburgh on the board late in the period with a power play goal but the Penguins were never really in this one. New York scored both goals in the second period on their way to a 5-2 win. David Perron added his 10th goal of the season in the loss. Fleury was replaced by Thomas Greiss after allowing four goals on 17 shots. Tuesday night is an opportunity for the Penguins to finish the first half strong and hopefully use this next week to start getting some players healthy. This is a club that is going to be near the top of the standings as long as Crosby and Evgeni Malkin stay healthy, but unless they get the rest of their role players back they’re going to have a difficult time making any noise in the post season.
Pittsburgh is a pretty solid favorite on the road in this one and that speaks more to how poor Philadelphia has been. The Flyers always manage to give the Penguins a good game but with the way the Flyers have been playing defense the total might be the better way to go in this one.