The headline may be a little cheesy, but the NHL season has been a whiz. The Pittsburgh Penguins (45-23-11) hold third place in the Metro Division by two points over the Washington Capitals and are tied with the Boston Bruins in a possible battle for the top wild-card spot. The Penguins get another cupcake on Sunday at the Wells Fargo Center, but no Penguins game against the Philadelphia Flyers is easy.
The puck will drop just after 4 p.m. Don’t shoot the messenger. It will be a national TV game, so prepare for overused camera angles you don’t like, studio desk chatter that has nothing to do with your team or the game, and repetitive callbacks to more interesting Penguins-Flyers games.
The Flyers season went to Hell in a handbasket. After offseason additions, including Cam Atkinson and Rasmus Ristolainen, GM Chuck Fletcher thought he fixed the issues that submarined last season.
He didn’t. The Flyers will be around third or fourth-worst in the NHL and get a top-five draft pick. Fletcher is receiving gobs of criticism. Due to injuries, Atkinson, Ristolainen, and goalie Carter Hart are done for the year. Claude Giroux was traded to Florida, where he is rejuvenated. And interim coach Mike Yeo is just holding down the bench for a few more games.
It’s not just ugly in Philadelphia. It’s cleanup after the Mummers parade ugly.
The Penguins didn’t take much pity on the disinterested Detroit Red Wings on Saturday. After a tepid start, the Penguins thumped Detroit 7-2. Rickard Rakell put on a little show. He scored a highlight-reel goal and set up Sidney Crosby with an impressive assist. Kris Letang overcame some unsteadiness and scored a few points, including a pretty snipe. Evgeni Malkin had two goals.
Casey DeSmith started and was stellar, even when the Penguins made a few mistakes that put him under duress.
On Sunday, Louis Domingue is likely to get the call in the Penguins’ net. Domingue started one game for the Penguins this season. He stopped 40 of 41 in a 2-1 OT win over San Jose on Jan. 15.
The 6-foot-3 Domingue posted a .924 save percentage in 22 appearances with the WBS Penguins. Overall, he has 141 games of NHL experience, so he’s not untested in the league.
One wonders if head coach Mike Sullivan will also reinsert Brian Boyle into the lineup after making the big forward a healthy scratch on Saturday. Evan Rodrigues took the right-wing on the fourth line Saturday.
Expected Pittsburgh Penguins Lines
|Jake Guentzel||Sidney Crosby||Rickard Rakell|
|Jason Zucker||Evgeni Malkin||Bryan Rust|
|Radim Zohorna||Teddy Blueger||Brock McGinn|
|Drew O'Connor||Ryan Poehling||Drake Caggiula|
|Brian Dumoulin||Kris Letang|
|Marcus Pettersson||Jeff Petry|
|Ty Smith||Jan Rutta|
Expected Flyers Lines from Philly Hockey Now
Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes:
*Scoring first will be key for the Penguins. The Flyers are an abysmal 5-34-4 when the opponent scores first and 4-26-3 when trailing after the first period.
*Opponents have outscored the Flyers 98-64 in the third period.
*The Flyers have the worst power play in the NHL at an unbelievable 12%. The PK is 27th (75.3%). The Penguins’ power play remains 17th (20.9%), and the PK second in the NHL (86.0%).
*The Penguins are 3-0-0 against the Flyers this season.
*Jake Guentzel has 23 points (9G-14A) in 22 regular-season games against the Flyers. Guentzel has 36 points (15G-21A) in 28 games if you include postseason games.
*The last time the Penguins played the Flyers was Feb. 15. Sidney Crosby became the 46th player in NHL history to record his 500th goal.
*Despite only playing in 38 games this season, Evgeni Malkin sits one goal shy of hitting the 20-goal plateau for the 13th time in his career. Only Crosby (14) has more such instances in team history.
*The Penguins have a 23-11-6 road record, and with just one road game left in the regular season, the Penguins have a chance to tie the franchise record for road wins in a season set in 1992-93 (24) and then later matched in 2010-11 (24).
Pittsburgh Penguins Betting:
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The “Bet Against Dan and Make Money” pick of the day is all about the Penguins squashing the Flyers. It’s not nice to kick someone when they’re down, and I suspect the Penguins will do just that. I also suspect Louis Domingue will own his net–so I’m not taking the win and the over.
Today, the bet-against-me pick is Penguins win, cover -1.5, and keep it under 6.5 goals. The bet pays +290.
How to Watch:
TV: TNT; Radio: 105.9 The X