If you only looked at the odds, you’d figure that the Pittsburgh Penguins should have an easy time of things on Monday night when the Columbus Blue Jackets visit. However, the Pens are coming off an emotionally-draining loss to a big rival, so careful laying the juice as the Pens might overlook the Blue Jackets.
The Columbus Blue Jackets can win because…
The Pittsburgh Penguins are coming off a last-second loss to their rivals from Boston. The Pens blew a 2-1 lead with 1:29 remaining only to lose 3-2 in regulation. On top of that, there was plenty of physicality in a game that saw defenseman Brooks Orpik get stretchered off the ice.
Nobody will argue that Pittsburgh is the better team here but their focus might not be there. It’s hard to come off an intense game like that and put the same type of effort in against Columbus.
The Blue Jackets have won three of four and have a bit of momentum going. They could be worth a look on the NHL odds here.
The Pittsburgh Penguins can win because…
The Blue Jackets are not a good team – especially on the road. Sure, they’ve won three of four, but on the road, they’ve lost six of nine. One of those losses was a 4-2 defeat in Pittsburgh on November 1st.
The Pens did lose to Boston – again – on Saturday but if you take a look at their last seven games, that’s the only team Pittsburgh has lost to. Furthermore, the Blue Jackets are without Vezina Trophy-winning goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, which leaves them very thin in net.
The Pens have won five straight at home and will come out with a vengeance after blowing what should have been a win on Saturday.
Outlook & Pick
The Pens are already with Evgeni Malkin and are now without Orpik, but that’s not why I’ll avoid them with my NHL picks. It’s more just the big price tag.
Instead, I’ll take a shot with the under. The Blue Jackets will have to play conservative to protect backup goaltender Curtis McElhinney and the Pens will tighten up defensively after blowing a late lead on Saturday.Pick: Under 5.5 at BetOnline