Flyers vs. Penguins
Pittsburgh, PA - There's been nothing spectacular about the start for either the Philadelphia Flyers or Pittsburgh Penguins, both of whom are still looking to establish some consistency in the season's first month.
The rivals are getting some pretty regular looks at each other, at least.
The Flyers and Penguins face off for the third time in as many weeks Friday night at Consol Energy Center, where Philadelphia seeks its first road victory since spoiling Pittsburgh's home opener.
Oddsmakers from online sports book BroburySports.com have made the Penguins –160 money line favorites for Friday's game against the Canadiens. Current NHL Public Betting Information shows that 62% of more than 635 bets for this game have been placed on the Penguins -160.
The Flyers (4-4-1) and Penguins (5-4-1) have represented the Eastern Conference in the past three Stanley Cup finals, but both teams are still mired in some early season mediocrity.
Pittsburgh looked like it had turned the corner with four consecutive victories Oct. 15-21, winning 5-1 in Philadelphia on Oct. 16 with the help of a pair of power-play goals from Sidney Crosby.
The Penguins started a three-game road trip with a 4-3 overtime victory against Nashville on Oct. 21, but they lost 1-0 in overtime Saturday to St. Louis and let a two-goal lead slip away Wednesday in a 5-3 defeat to Tampa Bay.
It's hardly the beginning Pittsburgh was hoping for after opening last season 9-1-0.
"Maybe with just the way we lost (Wednesday), being up 3-1, (the mediocre start) gets a little more attention," defenseman Brooks Orpik said. "But I'd rather do it now than April or May. Hopefully we learn from it and don't make the same mistakes."
The Penguins should be happy to head home, where they've won their past two after losing the first three. They'll certainly be familiar with the opponent.
"They're the Flyers. They play the same way, and they're a good team," left wing Pascal Dupuis said. "Obviously the emotions will be there, and hopefully, we will use it to our advantage."
Philadelphia hasn't had much success on the road since spoiling the opening of Pittsburgh's new arena with a 3-2 win Oct. 7, dropping both of its other games.
But coach Peter Laviolette's club at least looks like it's starting to find its footing on special teams. The Flyers scored three power-play goals Tuesday - equaling the total from their first 35 chances - in a 6-3 win over Buffalo.
"Nothing changed on the power play," said right wing Jeff Carter, who had a power-play goal and two assists. "We have just been working on it. We haven't changed it in three years. It was something that we pressed, just tried to get some shots and were lucky to get a few."
Carter has six goals and three assists in seven games against the Penguins since the start of last season, notching five points with the man advantage. Danny Briere has scored a power-play goal in both games versus Pittsburgh this month.
The Penguins failed to convert any of their 14 power-play chances on the trip, but perhaps facing the Flyers will get them going. They've converted eight of their 32 opportunities in their past six games against Philadelphia, with Crosby having a hand in five of those.
Flyers rookie Sergei Bobrovsky made 29 saves in the opening night win in Pittsburgh but has posted a 3.03 goals-against average since.The Penguins, meanwhile, seem to have a legitimate controversy. Starter Marc-Andre Fleury is 1-4-0 with a 3.41 GAA while backup Brent Johnson is 4-0-1 with a 1.39 GAA, yet Fleury is expected to start Friday.