Penguins Flyers Playoff Odds: Crosby, Malkin Gives Pens Big Edge

March 3 2012; Denver, CO, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (29) is chest bumped by Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (71) following the win over the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center. The Penguins defeated the Avalanche 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE

Evgeni Malkin was the NHL's best player this season.

Sidney Crosby is the world's best player, who happened to miss most of the season.

With both healthy and motivated, small wonder the Pittsburgh Penguins opened the Stanley Cup odds parade as favorites for the 2012 NHL playoffs.

"Most shops have them at 4/1, even though they have a first-round war brewing with Philly which could take some steam out of them," said Jack Randall, hockey analyst at OddsShark.com. [ SBNation NHL odds ]

"And they are big favorites to take out the Flyers in Game 1, as well as the series."

Indeed, injury woes in Philadelphia have turned what could have been a seven-game war into a likely five-game skirmish. Chris Pronger and Andrej Mesjaros are gone from the blueline. John Van Riemsdyk and Danny Briere are top playoff performers who are hobbled.

Pittsburgh is a -210 favorite to win this series, with Philly getting +175 as the underdog. The matchup report shows the Flyers as one of the league's top power-play teams in a series that could turn nasty.

But Philly had been 5-0 at Pittsburgh since their new rink opened (before last week's meaningless final game). And Philly won more road games than any other team in the NHL.

Still, the Flyers need more than some Jaromir Jagr magic (against his former team) to pull off the upset here.

They remain 14/1 Stanley Cup longshots. The New York Rangers and Vancouver Canucks are second betting choices at 11/2 behind the Penguins.

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