With a depleted defense corps, Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins could be vulnerable against the Philadelphia Flyers when they take their cross-state rivalry outside on Saturday night.
The Penguins are a -206 betting favorite against the +185 Flyers with a 5.5-goal total at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com in their NHL Stadium Series matchup, which will take place at Heinz Field on Saturday night.
The defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins are dealing with injuries to a quartet of defensemen, with Kris Letang (upper body), Olli Maatta (hand), Trevor Daley (knee) and Justin Schultz (concussion) all banged up.
But as one would expect of a team led by Crosby, the Penguins don’t squander opportunities when they’re a big favorite. The OddsShark NHL Database shows the Penguins are 9-1 straight up in their last 10 home games as a favorite with a moneyline of -200 to -500.
Philadelphia is 28-25-7 on the season, including a 2-6 mark in their last eight games. The Flyers need to start winning soon in order to stay in the Eastern Conference wild card race, and need the likes of C Claude Giroux and C Brayden Schenn to pick up the pace offensively.
Goalie Michal Neuvirth will make his sixth consecutive start for the Flyers, but has a 2.38 goals-against average and just an .894 save percentage since the all-star break.
The Flyers are overdue for an upset win on the road. They are 1-11 in their last dozen games as the road underdog. Their track record when the odds are really against them is closer to respectability; they are 3-7 in their last 10 road games as an underdog with a moneyline of -150 to -500.
Pittsburgh is 37-14-8 on the season, but injuries on the back end have led to a modest 6-4 record over their last 10 games. With Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Matt Cullen, the Penguins are one of the strongest teams in the NHL down the middle.
Veteran defenseman Ron Hainsey, who was picked up by the Penguins on Thursday in a trade with the Carolina Hurricanes, and will make his Pittsburgh debut. But the Penguins are going to be a shaky pick as long as they are relying on replacement-level rearguards such as Cameron Gaunce and Steve Oleksy.
In spite of the instability on the blue line – and the NHL’s midseason mandating of more form-fitting goalie pants – Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray has a 1.82 goals-against average and a .938 save percentage since the all-star break. The Penguins are also 16-4 in their last 20 home games as the favorite.
For whatever it is worth, the Penguins are 1-2 all-time in outdoor games. The Flyers are 0-2.
The total has gone over in eight of Pittsburgh’s last 11 home games as the favorite. The total has also gone over in seven of Pittsburgh’s last 10 home games against its division.