Philadelphia Flyers: A First Round Matchup With The Penguins

Travis Konecny, Philadelphia Flyers (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
Travis Konecny, Philadelphia Flyers (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /

If the current standings hold, the Flyers would have a date with the Penguins in the first round of the playoffs.

No one knows if or when hockey will return this season. And if it does, in what capacity? The league could finish out the rest of the regular season, which had about three weeks left. They could also go straight into the playoffs. If they were to chose that option, we would get to see another matchup between the Flyers and Penguins.

It wouldn’t be the first time the two teams met up in the postseason. It would be the eighth time the two have played each other. That dates back to their first matchup in the 1989 Patrick Division Finals. The Flyers have the edge in series won with four. The Penguins won the last time these two faced off in the first round in 2018.

Aside from the fifth game in the series, each victory was a blowout win. The Penguins took that series in six games, despite Sean Couturier‘s hat trick on a torn MCL. Jake Guentzel would match that, and then some, scoring four goals of his own.

But how would a series between the two teams look now? Ask the oddsmakers and it would be an even fought series. They are the only series predicted to have that kind of matchup. Jeff Sherman, the vice president of risk management for Westgate SuperBook, went into more detail on why the odds were set that way.

The Flyers were clearly the hotter team before the season paused. The odds took a few things into account, so let’s take a look at our own details and see why these two actually are in a similar place.

Top Scorers

Looking at where the offense was typically coming from on both sides, we can see just how close the two teams are. The Flyers leading goal scorer, Travis Konecny, has 24 goals. For the Penguins, Bryan Rust leads the way with 27 goals. The next for each team are Kevin Hayes (23) and Evgeni Malkin (25).

As for points, the Penguins have the slight edge as Malkin leads in that category with 74. It’s a big dropoff to Rust, though, as he is next with 56 points. The Flyers are much closer together in that category. Konecny leads with 61 while Sean Couturier is right behind him with 59 points.

Goaltending Matchup

The goaltending matchup is even closer between the two teams. Carter Hart currently has a 2.42 GAA and a .914 SV%. Tristan Jarry had almost identical stats as he sat with a 2.43 GAA and a .921 SV%. The comparisons between the other goaltenders were even closer. Both Brian Elliott and Matt Murray actually had the exact same stats. Both finished with a 2.87 GAA and a .899 SV%. Elliott did have the edge in shutouts.

While Murray is still considered the starter for Pittsburgh, it should be slightly concerning that his stats were equal to that of the Flyers backup goaltender. And that was with seven more games played.

Miscellaneous Stats

The Flyers had an edge on the power play (20.8%) while the Penguins penalty kill (82.1%) was slightly better. Couturier led a Flyers center group that had the top faceoff percentage in the league at 54.6%. The 41 wins for the Flyers was just above Pittsburgh’s 40.

Philadephia was averaging more goals-per-game (3.29) and allowing fewer (2.77). The Penguins did have an edge in shots-per-game (31.9), but the Flyers gave up the fewest shots per game (28.7).

Look at any of these stats, though, and you will see how close the two teams rank in each of them. So it really isn’t a surprise to see that a playoff matchup between these two would be so close. Let’s hope we get a chance to see this matchup soon.