The Pittsburgh Penguins had been slumping just before the All-Star break but they appear to be back on track after it. We’ll see if they can keep it rolling in Vancouver for Saturday’s NHL game.
The Pittsburgh Penguins Can Win Because…
The Penguins are on a bit of a roll. They’ve won three of four and once again, goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury has keyed the success. He was a complete mess as the team dropped 10 of 14 through late December/early January. However, he’s righted the ship of late, posting back-to-back shutouts over the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames. Fleury is the key to this team’s success: when he’s on, they’re hard to beat, and you want to keep this in mind when looking over the NHL odds.
The return of Malkin hasn’t hurt either as the team has scored six goals in their last two outings. It might not seem like a lot but considering they averaged 2.83 in January (and far less when you realize that 18 goals came in three games), getting up to 3.00 per game is significant. They should be able to keep it rolling against a Canucks side that has had some problems in net of late. Vancouver Canucks have lost four of six and Ryan Miller has really hit the skids. He’s allowed 19 goals in his last five outings, which is simply awful. And he doesn’t play well against the Penguins either as his 3.28 GAA against them is his second-worst number against any opponent. He’ll have a tough time keep Pittsburgh under wraps on Saturday.
The Vancouver Canucks Can Win Because…
There’s a good chance the Pens rest Fleury and give backup Thomas Greiss the start on Saturday. Fleury – and the Pens – played last night in Calgary, so the Pens will likely resort to using Greiss. That’s a fairly big drop-off right now considering how Fleury has been playing. On the year, Greiss has a 2.60 GAA and .916 save percentage, which is quite pedestrian. The Pens have lost four of his last six starts and he’s given up three goals or more in five straight starts.
Fatigue could be a bit of an issue for the Penguins as they’re not a particularly great road team to begin with (13-11) but are playing third away game in four nights. They’re also in a back-to-back situation. Rest and the goaltending situation could tip the scales in the Canucks favor.
The Pens offense has come to life in recent games but Greiss likely to be in net, it’s tough to trust them on the road. Instead, we’ll look for an over. Greiss gives up about three goals per outing while Miller has lost four of five starts while posting a 3.28 GAA. And as mentioned above, he does not play well against the Pens. If it’s Eddie Lack, he’s posted a 2.57 GAA and .913 save percentage on the season, so he’s not that strong between the pipes either. Overall, over looks like the best choice for our NHL picks picks here.
NHL Pick: Over at The Greek