Free NHL Picks: Lock In Penguins -260 Against Weak Flames

Doug Upstone

Saturday, March 5, 2016 12:26 PM GMT

Saturday, Mar. 5, 2016 12:26 PM GMT

Pittsburgh is in position to leap over Detroit for seventh position in the Eastern Conference today and has exactly the right opponent to accomplish this today. See my NHL pick here.

Calgary Flames vs Pittsburgh Penguins 
The Penguins are playing host to Calgary, who has lost seven straight and 10 of 11 and has more bad numbers than a keno player. Though Pittsburgh still has 19 games remaining on the schedule, they would definitely want to climb out of second wild card or No. 8 slot, thus avoiding Washington in the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

For NHL picks, the winner seems as obvious as a Russian election, but let's at least make the case the underdog.

 

How Does Calgary Pull Upset?
For the Flames (26-38 SU) to defeat Pittsburgh, it starts with the law of averages. Calgary has lost seven straight but they are going to win eventually, thus that moves the meter off zero chance to win. In dropping 10 of 11, that means prior to this the Flames were at least average and were only two games below .500. What has changed to make Calgary so dreadful?

The Flames were not a good defensive team to start with, but they have their moments, which is how they won seven in a row to begin December and had a few other stretches when they were at least adequate. This will need a combination of defensive players and goaltender working in harmony, with the blue-liners moving the puck to the boards or at least giving the goalie a sight line to stop the puck. The netminder has to also do a better job in taking something away and that is usually low shots, to make opposing shooters aim higher where he can use his glove hand.

On offense, keep the pressure on with leading scorer Johnny Gaudreau (63 points) and Sean Monahan (46) and do everything possible to avoid taking penalties, having the worst penalty killing unit by a long margin.

 

Pittsburgh Just Has Play Their Game
The Penguins (33-30 SU) are trudging along, winners of 12 of past 18 and they done something very important, last losing consecutive times in the middle of January. While they have not done much to have extended winning streak, avoiding losing multiple times also keeps you out of trouble.

Calgary has all sorts of weaknesses Pittsburgh should attack. The Pens need to pepper the Flames with shots to breakdown their No. 29 scoring defense. Among the elements Calgary does not do well is keep opponents away from their goaltender, which blocks his view and with all the congestion, this can lead to redirects and scores. This style of attack can lead to penalties and with the Flames woeful when down a man, Pittsburgh should be able to take advantage.

On defense, the Penguins can also take more chances and if nicked for a penalty, their Top 7 stop troops should contain the league's No. 29 power play. In other words, Pittsburgh needs to just not beat themselves.

 

What to Expect and Winner
The NHL odds boards have Pittsburgh as big -275 money line favorites and it well justified with the home team improving to 20-13 SU in their building while Calgary keeps going down in flames with 9-23 SU road mark.

Marc-Andre Fleury is expected in goals for Pitt and Calgary is 1-14 in road games against starting goalies saving 91.5 percent or more of shots against them this season. Since the Pens have upped their game, they have won eight in a row when facing losing teams and should be able to name the final score in this one, depending on what level of effort they decide to put in.

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Free NHL Pick: Pittsburgh -260
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline

 
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