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Posted at 1:15 PM EST.
8:00 PM EST. OT included. Lots of things are in play here. First, the 0-2 Predators will do something they have never done, which is hoist a banner to the rafters of Bridgestone Arena before the game tonight in a brief, pre-game ceremony celebrating its Western Conference championship. That only motivates the visitor more. Secondly, the Preds will once again go with goaltender Pekka Rinne, who is worse this year than last year and has allowed eight goals so far. Both Pittsburgh and Boston penetrated the Nashville blue-line with relative ease. Additionally, the Predators gave away the puck 14 times in two games. Overall, 13 of the 20 skaters on the roster have more starts in the defensive zone than the offensive zone.
The Predators' season-opening trip to Boston and Pittsburgh resulted in them losing both games by a combined score of 8-3 and never owning a lead. Incidentally, Pittsburgh had just lost 10-1 to Chicago and Boston was beaten at home by Colorado yesterday.
Bridgestone Arena has been one of the more difficult venues for visitors to win at but we’re not going to allow that to influence us here when the underdog is so live. Almost every Predator had a career year last year and they barely snuck into the playoffs as a #8 seed before catching lightning in a bottle. They’ll enter this game trying to pick up that elusive first win and they’ll also enter it with inferior goaltending.
After a three-game West-Coast trip to San Jose, Los Angeles and Anaheim, the Flyers are 2-1 and could easily be 3-0. They have looked sharp and well prepped in all three games and we don’t see them letting up here. Philadelphia narrowly missed the playoffs last year after a late rally that just fell short. The previous season they made a furious rally in the final month to just sneak into the playoffs. It would appear that the Flyers have learned a valuable lesson, that being that two points in October are just as value as two points in May. There is an emphasis to a strong start and the Flyers have gotten the message. Philadelphia also has a different look to them this year. The Flyers’ overall team speed is much better than last season and they have upgraded in several areas which includes defense and depth. If you haven’t watched the Flyers play yet, pay attention to its fourth line. Thanks to its quickness and tenacity, the fourth line — Scott Laughton centering Taylor Leier and Michael Raffl — has created numerous scoring chances in the first three games.
The balanced lines give the Flyers better matchups than in the past. Last year’s fourth line, composed of center Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, winger Chris Vande Velde and a variety of other wingers and it was not good. This year, Philly is constantly sending out fresh bodies. The fourth line is getting significant playing time and all four lines are creating. It’s a massive difference from sending out three lines that are playing extra minutes because the fourth line was a liability. This is a dangerous dog that the market hasn’t caught up to yet and they are absolutely worth a bet here.
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Philadelphia +122 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.44)