NHL Odds & Pick for Penguins vs. Flyers: Bet on Pittsburgh to Exact Revenge (Jan. 15)

NHL Odds & Pick for Penguins vs. Flyers: Bet on Pittsburgh to Exact Revenge (Jan. 15) article feature image
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Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Sidney Crosby.

  • The Philadelphia Flyers beat the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night to open the 2021 season.
  • Will the result be different just two nights later when these teams meet again?
  • Pete Truszkowski breaks down Friday's matchup and shares his betting pick below.

Penguins vs. Flyers Odds

Penguins Odds -110 [BET NOW]
Flyers Odds -110 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 6 (-120 / +100) [BET NOW]
Time 7 p.m. ET
TV NHL Network
Odds as of Thursday night and via BetMGM. Get an INSTANT $500 deposit match at BetMGM today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.

The Philadelphia Flyers and the Pittsburgh Penguins will face off against each other on Friday for the second time in three nights. One of the most interesting parts of the new NHL rules for the shortened season is that teams will play two or three games at a time against each other.

In a way, it’s similar to a playoff series where you’ll be able to spot trends and be able to evaluate teams with previous head-to-head data. 

Wednesday’s game produced a lopsided 6-3 scoreline in favor of the Flyers. Joel Farabee led the way with a goal and added three assists.

What can we take away from the regular season opener and does it offer us an advantage for Game 2?

Pittsburgh Penguins

It’s crazy to think a team that has won the Stanley Cup twice in the past five years and features generational talents like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin might be underrated by hockey fans and the betting market alike. 

However, after a first-round exit to the New York Islanders in 2019 and an inability to get past the qualifying round in the 2020 Bubble, it’s not hard to see why people might be willing to look past Pittsburgh as one of the NHL’s elite. Despite the lack of playoff success in recent years, the Penguins have still been one of the NHL’s better regular season teams.

Last year, Pittsburgh struggled to generate offense at 5-on-5. They were only 19th in the league in terms of expected goals/60 with a mark of 2.35. Despite this, they were still a top-10 team in actual production. The discrepancy is easy to explain when you have high-end elite talent like Crosby, Malkin and Jake Guentzel who can overperform expectations.

Pittsburgh’s biggest strength last season was actually its defensive work. The Penguins finished seventh in the NHL with a 2.2 expected goals against per 60 minutes. They were slightly let down by the performance of Matt Murray, but Murray has departed and Tristan Jarry is now the Penguins’ starting goaltender. 

Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.

Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.

xG numbers cited from Evolving Hockey.

In the opener, Jarry struggled. The Penguins did not do him any favors, allowing nine high-danger chances. Despite that, Jarry was beaten six times and the poor goaltending performance overshadowed a performance the Penguins were probably relatively happy with. Pittsburgh had 56.8% of the shot attempts and 51.7% of the expected goals. 

If the Penguins play like that, they’ll win more often than not. 

Philadelphia Flyers

Just like the Penguins are underrated based on recent performance, one might argue the Philadelphia Flyers are overrated. 

Philadelphia is still an above-average team, but preseason hype and odds have the Flyers as one of the better teams in the league and I’m not buying that. Philadelphia was squarely in the middle of the pack last year, finishing 13th in expected goal rate. 

The Flyers had a nine-game winning streak right before the NHL season was suspended. They then squeaked past the Montreal Canadiens in a playoff series they were outplayed in. They gave the New York Islanders a tough seven-game series, but the Islanders were the better team in that series, as well. 

Carter Hart’s emergence as one of the best young goaltenders in the sport does a lot to mask some of the Flyers’ deficiencies. However, expecting a goaltender to continually mask your issues is not the best recipe for success. Hart had the fifth-best goals saved above expectation of all goalies in The Bubble. 


Goals Saved Above Expectation (GSAx) is an advanced statistic that measures a goaltender’s performance against the quality of scoring chances he faced. It is a better catch-all metric compared to save percentage because SV% counts every saved shot and goal the same, while GSAx weights shots by the quality of the scoring chance.

GSAx numbers cited from Evolving Hockey.


In the opener, we saw a Flyers team with unspectacular underlying metrics who vastly overperformed what the numbers say should have happened, a trend continuing from last season. 

Penguins vs. Flyers Pick

We have a classic pick’em in this matchup with both teams lining up at -110. In the opening game of the season, the Penguins opened as underdogs before closing as slight favorites. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more Penguins money come in before puck drop like we saw on Wednesday. 

Philadelphia might have won the game in impressive fashion in the opener, but Pittsburgh definitely deserved a better result. It’s true that Philadelphia probably has the edge in net, which is always the great equalizer. 

However, I take the Penguins’ top-end forwards over the Flyers’ group and I also take the Penguins’ team defense over Philadelphia’s. I think the Penguins will do a better job of shoring things up in the defensive zone on Friday night and I think they’ll get their first win of the season. 

The Bet: Pittsburgh ML -110 (bet up to -115)

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