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It was my second straight 1-1 night with my most recent picks on Saturday night, however I ended up with a minimal loss on the night with my winner coming in at -105. The Washington Capitals continued to play strong defense under new Head Coach Barry Trotz and limited the Red Wings to just a single goal on the night while scoring three of their own, therefore going UNDER the 5.5 total. I got my winner shortly thereafter as the Montreal Canadiens and Pittsburgh Penguins needed extra time to decide their game, with the Penguins winning in overtime on Sidney Crosby’s 12th goal of the season. The Penguins also continued to play strong defense in front of Marc-Andre Fleury, while Carey Price and the Canadiens are giving up just about nothing to their opponents these days, and Saturday was no different. With just three games on the schedule this evening I have a single pick that I would like to get out.
Tampa Bay Lightning @ Philadelphia Flyers
My Pick – OVER 5.5 (-120)
The Tampa Bay Lightning and Philadelphia Flyers meet for the third and final time this regular season as the Lightning look to capture a series sweep of their Eastern Conference foe. Tampa currently sits atop the Eastern Conference standings with 58 points on the season thanks in large part to winning seven of their past eight games. Tampa enters tonight’s contest as the league’s highest scoring team with 3.23 goals per game while Philly sits in the middle of the pack at 2.64, but the Flyers will be in very tough against a good offense and likely with their third string goalie between the pipes. Rob Zepp is likely to start for the Flyers tonight after Steve Mason was injured in their 3-1 loss to the Boston Bruins on Saturday afternoon. Zepp gave up three goals in his NHL debut on December 21st against the Winnipeg Jets, but he will be facing a whole different animal tonight in the Lightning. It’s getting quite repetitive writing about the Tampa Bay offense as I have done it several times this season, but it needs to be said how deep this team is. The Lightning have three players at the 40-point plateau already this season and have 13 players that have double-digit points. They have four players in double-digit goals including Steven Stamkos with his 22 to rank right up near the top of the league once again. The Flyers have two players above the 40-point plateau in Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek, and they could also avoid facing a number one goaltender tonight as the Lightning are likely to split their upcoming back-to-back games between Ben Bishop and Evgeni Nabokov. Philly has the league’s 5th best man advantage and the unit is definitely more lethal on home ice, while the Lightning powerplay will go up against the NHL’s second-worst penalty kill with the Flyers sitting at 74.8% when they are down a man or two. Philly is the 8th worst team in the league in terms of goals against per game at 2.88 and I don’t imagine things getting much easier for a team with many defensive and goaltending issues. Like I usually do when looking at Lightning games, I like the OVER 5.5 especially tonight given their opponent and the style of play that usually takes place between Eastern Conference teams. Take the OVER 5.5 tonight and look for plenty of goals from the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.