NHL playoffs handicappers will have plenty to consider with the resurgent Penguins and deep Flyers as the hockey odds should be relatively even. The Pittsburgh Penguins enter the NHL playoffs as one of the hottest teams in the league.
Since February 19 the Penguins became an ATM machine against the hockey odds with 18 payoffs in 24 games to catapult into the NHL playoffs as the 4-seed in the east after looking like a team that might miss out all together. The defending eastern conference champions are a powerful offensive unit.
It may surprise casual fans that Sidney Crosby was NOT Pittsburgh’s leading scorer this year. It certainly makes the Penguins opponents for the NHL playoffs take notice, however, as the Penguins have two super charged weapons taking the ice.
Center iceman Evgeni Malkin led the Pens in scoring with 35 goals and 78 assists while fellow center Crosby had 33 goals and 70 assists. Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury looks like another asset for the NHL playoffs as he had a .912 save percentage and posted 35 wins for the season.
The Philadelphia Flyers were way out in front for much of the regular season before a rather lethargic finish down the stretch in which they were just 11-12 in their final 23 games entering the NHL playoffs.
This slow finish coupled with the Penguins powerful stretch run cost the Flyers home ice advantage for the first round of the NHL playoffs. Philadelphia has their share of weapons for the NHL playoffs and has better overall offensive depth than Pittsburgh. Center Jeff Carter led the Flyers with 46 goals and 38 assists.
Fellow center Mike Richards scored 30 goals and 50 assists while left wing Simon Gagne put together 34 goals with 40 assists. Another left winger, Scott Hartnell is an example of the Flyers depth as he had 30 goals and 30 assists. Goaltender Martin Biron won 29 games with a .915 save percentage.
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