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Cup Favored Penguins Set for Death Match vs. Archrival Flyers

You can probably bet the farm that the most physical and intense first-round Stanley Cup playoffs series will be between the hated Pennsylvania rivals from Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, with the Pens hosting Game 1 on Wednesday night in the best-of-7 series. Pittsburgh is a -210 series favorite on Bovada’s NHL hockey odds and a -170 favorite for Game 1.
 
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Despite finishing with the third-most points in the NHL behind Vancouver and the New York Rangers, it’s Pittsburgh that is the Stanley Cup favorite at the book at 4/1, with the Canucks and Rangers right behind. The Penguins are only the fourth seed in the East because the finished behind the Rangers by a point in the Atlantic Division and the three division winners in each conference are the top three seeds regardless of point totals. The Flyers are the No. 5 seed and they finished with more points (103) than every team but the Pens and Rangers.
 
Pittsburgh and Philly simply don’t like each other and this will be the third time in the past five years they have faced off in the playoffs, with the Pens winning the other two. The last meeting was in the East quarterfinals in 2009 with the Pens winning in six games on the way to the Stanley Cup.
 
Of course Pittsburgh was one-and-done in last year’s playoffs while playing without the injured Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. But both are playing their best hockey right now. Crosby was limited to 22 games but still had 38 points for his highest points-per-game total of his career. Malkin won the scoring title with 109 points and finished second with 50 goals – he’s almost a lock to win the Hart Trophy. Pittsburgh finished No. 1 in goals this season.
 
The Flyers have had a goalie carousel the past two postseasons but that won’t be the case this year with Ilya Bryzgalov in net. He was somewhat up and down this season but closed strong with 10 wins and four shutouts in March. He finished 33-16 with a 2.54 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage. However, Bryzgalov was torched by the Red Wings in last year’s playoffs while with Phoenix. Philly will have no trouble matching Pittsburgh’s firepower as the Flyers were No. 2 in scoring this year, led by Claude Giroux’s 93 points (37 goals).
 
Philadelphia won the season series 4-2. And the Penguins have beaten the Flyers just once in six meeting since at Pittsburgh’s Consol Energy Center, which opened last season. That victory came in Saturday's regular-season finale that was essentially meaningless. The favorite for number of games in this series at Bovada is six at +190. The Pens to win in six are 15/4, while Philly in six is 6/1.
 
The gloves are off! Now the real season starts. Every big play, every penalty, it's like you're calling it. Live Betting available throughout playoffs at Bovada.

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