Early NHL Picks: All Things Point To Lightning & Penguins Over

Doug Upstone

Saturday, February 20, 2016 2:35 PM GMT

With Pittsburgh scheduled for early afternoon game in Buffalo on Sunday, they made home game with Tampa Bay a matinee also, to get the proper rest and the NHL odds have them favored.

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NHL Pick: Over 5 (-120)
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

 

In looking at this Eastern Conference encounter, we have not only the side, but a totals pick for you as well. This way for NHL picks, you can choose what you like or maybe make parlay wager if you happen to agree with what you read.

The reason for going this route is we like both the side and total equally, thus, instead of trying to make one compelling argument, let's make it two.

 

Pittsburgh Not Struck by Lightning at Home
It has been a generally unsatisfying season for both Pittsburgh (29-27 SU) and Tampa Bay (31-26 SU), each with 66 points and occupying the last two spots which today would make them playoff teams. Each has the talent to run off five or six victories which could propel them as high as a No. 2 or 3 seed, but they have also been remarkably inconsistent and could miss the postseason altogether.

In today's contest, prefer the Penguins who have won four of six and been better defensively, mostly due to Marc-Andre Fleury. The 32-year old goaltender is not your classic fortress who can be impregnable, as his career path has been more along the lines of allowing one less goal than what Pittsburgh scores, which is not that unusual if you review the last 40 years of hockey with teams that were more offensive-minded. The Penguins are ninth in goals allowed at 2.5 and a stellar 4th in penalty killing.

Tampa Bay's numbers reflect similar to Pittsburgh's, 8th in defense and 10th in penalty killing, with an offense that has too many starts and stops to be counted on regularly. The Lightning have been a funky outfit, and they are in a funk right now, having lost four of six since defeating Pittsburgh at home 6-3 on Feb. 5th. Even both wins were fortunate, scoring with 27 seconds to tie Nashville before winning in OT and hanging on after blowing 5-3 lead to hold off Winnipeg Thursday, also beyond regulation.

Pittsburgh is playing into double revenge and has won seven in a row at home over Tampa Bay, five by two or more goals.

 

Extra Light Bulbs Needed for Scoring Lights
For hockey fans who like to see scoring, this is why you subscribe to NHL Center Ice. Since January 5th, 2012 these teams have played 14 times and 13 have gone OVER the is number, even four NHL odds which had a total of 6.

If that alone was not good enough, what about Tampa Bay goalie Ben Bishop being up and down like is team. In the Lightning's past seven contests, Bishop and backup Andrei Vasilevskiy have been lit up for 3.7 goals a game. The Tampa Bay offense has not been able to keep up with how bad the defense has played, yet is still rather potent at 3.1 GAG.

All season the Penguins offense has seen an ebb and flow, scoring frequently when on a roll and colder than an igloo when out of rhythm. Since we are forecasting a Pittsburgh triumph, in their last nine positive outcomes, they have averaged 4.3 GAG and are 6-1-2 OVER.

 

The Bottom Line
Pittsburgh is a money line home favorite and has won seven of eight home games. The Pens are 23-8 if the opposing team is coming off contest in which they scored five or more times while Tampa Bay is 1-6 if the team they are facing just did the same exact thing.

The home team has won six straight in this series and the OVER is a perfect 7-0 in the Steel City. The numbers are too strong to play anything different.