Any game featuring the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins is a big one and the Pens star-studded cast will take on the Dallas Stars in a nationally-televised Sunday matchup. The teams have the same amount of points, but the Stars find themselves battling for a playoff spot in the ultra-competitive Central Division. The Pens aren’t out of the woods either, but they have some wiggle room and can even take over first-place in the Metropolitan.
The games take on more meaning at this stage of the season with all but a few teams still with a realistic chance of reaching the postseason. The Philadelphia Flyers have exceeded expectations and climbed to first in the Metro, only to fall off the pace with a three-game losing streak. Philly will take on the red-hot Boston Bruins in a critical Eastern Conference matchup on Thursday night.
Philadelphia Flyers at Boston Bruins
Date and Time: Thursday, March 8, 2018, 7 p.m. ET
Location: TD Garden, Boston, MA
Opening NHL Game Odds: Click here for latest game odds
Flyers at Bruins TV Coverage: NHLN
With the help of a six-game winning streak, the Flyers took over sole possession of first in the Metro last week. Their stay didn’t last long, however. That winning streak was followed by three consecutive defeats and Philly is again back to scratching and clawing to remain in the playoff picture. The Flyers managed just one goal in three of their last four games but they escaped with a win in one of those behind the shutout goaltending of Peter Mrazek. They will need to put the puck in the net against the Bruins and that isn’t the easiest thing to do.
With the help of the NHL’s stingiest defense, the Bruins are battling Tampa Bay for the top spot in the Atlantic. They are also getting plenty of help from Brad Marchand, who scored the overtime game-winner against Detroit on Tuesday and has three OT winners in Boston’s last four overtime games with a total of five this season. Boston is locked into a playoff spot and with three games in hand, has its eyes on the Lightning for first-place in the Atlantic.
75.1 – They’re not last in the league on the penalty kill but the Flyers are damn close, and they have the worst percentage of any playoff team. Philly has surrendered 46 power-play goals, the sixth-highest total, and that number could be worse if the team lacked discipline.
Boston’s pesky group of forwards will do its best to goad the Flyers into a few cheap penalties and the Bs will take advantage of the weak PK unit.
Flyers at Bruins Free Picks
It’s hard to win when you can’t score. Philly has even had trouble when they do light the lamp. The Flyers scored one goal in three of their last four outings and put up a six-spot in the other. They lost that slugfest to Tampa and eked out a 1-0 shootout victory against Detroit. There is plenty of offensive firepower with Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek and Sean Couturier and the goals will come eventually.
However, the Bruins have a solid defense behind the stellar netminding of Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin and they’ve been strong all season with just 15 regulation losses and a plus-52 goal differential. Rask pitched a shutout in the first meeting and if the game goes to overtime, Marchand is there to win it for Boston.
Flyers at Bruins ATS Pick: Bruins
Flyers at Bruins Score Prediction: Bruins 5, Flyers 2
Dallas Stars at Pittsburgh Penguins
Date and Time: Sunday, March 11, 2018, 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, PA
Opening NHL Game Odds: Click here for latest game odds
Stars at Penguins TV Coverage: NBCSN
The Stars have put together one of their finest seasons in recent years, yet they are still in a tight race to make the playoffs. They haven’t been very good on the road and an upcoming six-game trip that opens in Pittsburgh on Sunday could make or break their season. Tyler Seguin, Alexander Radulov and Jamie Benn have combined for 82 goals this season and the Stars need at least one of them to produce to upset the Penguins.
With snipers Phil Kessel and Evgeni Malkin getting set up by Sidney Crosby, the Penguins are tearing it up on the power play, which has led to the fifth-best goals per game average in the league. The offensive talent is scary and if given the man advantage, Pittsburgh usually takes advantage. As good as the offense has been, if Matt Murray doesn’t return between the pipes soon it may not mean a whole lot.
25 – The Pens have been dominant on home ice owning the NHL’s best record. Their 11-game home winning streak ended two weeks ago in a loss to the Devils, which was part of a three-game overall losing streak. But the Pens regrouped and posted overtime wins over the Islanders and Calgary after that.
They’ll face a Dallas club that has struggled to a .500 record on the road and was shutout in two of the last three away games while scoring just four goals in its past four road contests.
Stars at Penguins Free Picks
Even though the Stars have had trouble scoring in recent road games, they have talent at the top of the roster. Seguin is the NHL’s fourth-leading goal scorer with 36 while Radulov has 24 and Benn 22. Three other players have reached double-figures and they should find the back of the net against the Pens’ backup goalie.
With Ben Bishop sidelined, the Stars will again turn to their backup, Kari Lehtonen. Good luck trying to stop Malkin and Crosby. With backups likely starting between the pipes, we could see enough goals to cash the over, and both clubs have been good this season doing that.
Stars at Penguins ATS Pick: Penguins
Stars at Penguins Score Prediction: Penguins 5, Stars 3
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