The Pittsburgh Penguins and Columbus Blue Jackets engaged in a great playoff series in the first round last year that had NHL betting cappers quite excited but the two sides won’t be meeting in the postseason again. Even so, don’t be surprised if the Blue Jackets give the Pens a swift kick while they are down when the two sides meet on Saturday.
The Pittsburgh Penguins Can Win Because…
The Blue Jackets goaltending has been so-so of late. If there is a chance for the Penguins offense to get back on track, it could be in this spot.
While it’s true that Pittsburgh’s offense has tapered off a lot – they are averaging just 1.6 goals per game over their last 10 – the Blue Jackets might be the perfect antidote for them. The Blue Jackets have been winning a lot recently but it’s mostly been because they’ve been outscoring opponents. They’ve actually allowed an average of 2.89 goals per game over their last nine, which isn’t that great. The Pens should be able to do more offensively in this one than they have against recent opponents.
The Pens have won five of their last six regular season road trips to Columbus, so they are quite comfortable playing there. They need a strong effort to change their momentum as the playoffs are right around the corner.
The Columbus Blue Jackets Win Because…
They’re on fire right now, which is probably why they're the favorites tonight on the NHL odds. The Blue Jackets are playing their best hockey of the season right now as they enter Saturday on an eight-game winning streak. Their offense has been on a roll as they continue to light the lamp at a healthy pace. They’ve scored at least three goals in 11 of their last 12 games while averaging 4.25 during their current winning streak.
On the flip side, the Penguins are in a funk. They’ve lost seven of their last 10 games and are not working as a cohesive unit these days. They are a playoff-bound team but are coming off a 4-1 loss to the lousy Philadelphia Flyers. They haven’t been very reliable in terms of road games either as they’ve dropped four of their last five away games.
The main issue for the Pens these days is that their offense has disappeared. They are averaging just 2.29 goals per game since the All-Star break, which is a huge concern. They have Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, yet that number is the fifth-worst number in the NHL. The Blue Jackets are playing better right now and they deserve your money here – not Pittsburgh.
The Blue Jackets are on a roll right now as six of the team’s they’ve beat during this winning streak are in playoff contention. The Pens enter on a slump and they’re going to be without Evgeni Malkin. Beyond that, this is a team that’s just 20-25 since starting the season with 22 wins in their first 32 games. The Blue Jackets are the logical play for your NHL picks in this one. All of the momentum points to them winning again.
NHL Pick: Blue Jackets at Bodog