Who will WIN this matchup?
Pittsburgh Penguins (0-0-0)
@ Philadelphia Flyers (0-0-0)
Tristan Jarry (PIT): Confirmed
Carter Hart (PHI): Confirmed
Pittsburgh Penguins: (+100)
Philadelphia Flyers: (-120)
• The Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers, bitter rivals for decades, will come together Wednesday for a common cause: the start of the 2020-21 season. Finally. The cross-state clubs were selected to play in the first game of the delayed opening to the NHL season, with an early evening faceoff at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. The league’s calendar, like so many things, was thrown askew by the COVID-19 pandemic. The unconventional start time of 5:30 p.m. ET was set so the game could be part of a national tripleheader television event, and it also features not only longtime rivals but also teams looking to prove they are bona fide contenders for the Stanley Cup.
• The Flyers over the years have struggled to find consistent top-level play in net but believe they have found a franchise goaltender in Carter Hart. That could be part of the reason for a swagger entering the season.
• Two points of inspiration for the Flyers are the return of forwards Oskar Lindblom, who played in 30 regular-season games last season while battling cancer, and Nolan Patrick, who missed last season because of a migraine issue. A season condensed to 56 games from the normal 82, with all games played within revamped divisions, puts more weight on every matchup.
• Pittsburgh won back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2016 and ’17 but has won just one playoff series since and got upset by Montreal in the qualifying round this past summer. In response, the Penguins overhauled some things, including trading goaltender Matt Murray to Ottawa and handing the top goalie chores to Tristan Jarry.
• But Pittsburgh still is built around a core of veterans, topped by centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and defenseman Kris Letang, all over 30 but still considered by team management to be among the league’s elite. Other offseason moves and perhaps increased roles for a couple younger players aim to restore the Penguins to an identity they had — namely speed — when they won those two most recent Cups.
• The Penguins will remain in Philadelphia for a rematch Friday, a schedule quirk that will be common across the NHL this season to decrease travel.
Top Pick Record For January 2021: 54-19
Top Pick Record For December 2020: 47-23
Top Pick Record For November 2020: 24-5
Top Pick Record For October 2020: 21-5
Top Pick Record For September 2020: 41-12
Top Pick Record For August 2020: 32-8
Top Pick Record For July 2020: 11-5
Top Pick Record For June 2020: 2-0
Top Pick Record For May 2020: 5-1
Top Pick Record For April 2020: 7-2
Top Pick Record For March 2020: 13-3
Top Pick Record For February 2020: 13-4
Top Pick Record For January 2020: 17-4
Top Pick Record For December 2019: 22-7
Top Pick Record For November 2019: 21-7
Top Pick Record for October 2019: 14-4
Top Pick Record for September 2019: 22-2