Friday NHL Picks

Our team of writers and handicappers hand out their hockey playoffs picks and predictions for Friday, April 17.

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Philadelphia Flyers at Pittsburgh Penguins, 7:05PM ET

The speed the Pittsburgh Penguins brought at them shift after shift, period after period, shouldn't surprise the Philadelphia Flyers - they've see it from Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal 20 times over the past two seasons.

The fatigue and frustration it caused, and maybe the lack of discipline it provoked? The Flyers didn't seem prepared for that, and already they find themselves in a likely must-win playoff Game 2 against the Penguins.

The Flyers, just as they couldn't during last season's one-sided Eastern Conference finals, didn't handle anything the confident and under-control Penguins brought at them during a 4-1 Pittsburgh victory in Game 1 on Wednesday night. The Flyers retaliated with needless penalties, undisciplined play, a late sequence of message-sending hits and not much else.

After allowing four goals or more for the fifth time in six playoff games against the Penguins the last two seasons, the Flyers appeared leg-weary and slightly discouraged. They also seemed to be looking for answers in an Eastern Conference first-round series that could get away from them as fast as Malkin on a breakaway if they don't win Friday night in Pittsburgh.

NHL Free Pick: Pittsburgh  View Game Matchup | Best Line: -170 SBG Global

Carolina Hurricanes at New Jersey Devils, 7:35PM ET

After watching somewhat of a no-show performance by his Carolina Hurricanes in the opening game of the playoffs, Paul Maurice was frank in saying that his post-game comments weren't all hugs and kisses.

Maurice wasn't totally negative either after the New Jersey Devils outworked the Hurricanes 4-1 on Wednesday night to take the lead in the best-of-7 series that resumes on Friday.

``We did not prepare that way,'' Maurice said Thursday after Carolina skated less than an hour at the Prudential Center. ``We got a good dose of playoff hockey handed right to us last night and that's never something that you enjoy. They were really good. That's the bottom line. They played a heck of a game.''

The bottom line is that the Hurricanes didn't play anything like the team won 9 of its last 11 regular-season games.

Their errors were blatant.

NHL Free Pick: New Jersey View Game Matchup | Best Line: -150 SBG Global

St. Louis Blues at Vancouver Canucks, 10:35PM ET

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) - Canucks coach Alain Vigneault wasn't happy about it, Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo is getting used to it, and St. Louis Blues bench boss Andy Murray couldn't figure out what all the fuss is about.

When St. Louis' Andy McDonald sprayed the star goalie with snow after Luongo smothered a puck early in Game 1 of the first-round playoff series Wednesday night, it sparked a penalty-filled contest that left the Canucks upset with the referees.

After Vancouver killed off six of seven power plays and scored once on a delayed penalty and again on a power play in its 2-1 series-opening victory, Vigneault said he was confused by the officiating. He wouldn't expand on that comment after practice Thursday, but left little doubt his biggest concern was the activity around Luongo.

``Obviously, any team playing against us are going to focus on Luongo and the ice spraying, pushing in the crease. I just think somebody has to pay attention to that, Vigneault said. ``Everybody is going to key on him. It just has to be fair.

NHL Free Pick: St. Louis View Game Matchup | Best Line: -185 SBG Global

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Posted: 4/17/09 12:52 PM ET

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