On paper, it looks logical: they finished with at least 101 points or more between 2009 & 2012 and led the Eastern Conference with 72 points in the lockout-shortened season.
However, people who make their NHL picks know that goaltending has become a significant flaw on this team. Sure, they can score a lot but can they get the reliable goaltending they need to win the Cup?
The Case For The Penguins Winning The Cup:
If you’re betting the Pens to win the Cup right now, it’s because you believe that their offense can take them to the Promised Land. Let’s face it: the Pens are the Cup favorite on the NHL odds solely because of their offense and not anything else. With Sidney Crosby healthy and Evgeni Malkin playing like an MVP-type of player, the Pens have two of the most dynamic players in the league. However, if you look at their leading goal-scorers from last season, you’ll see just how much depth they have. Chris Kunitz had 22 goals, James Neal had 21 goals and Pascal Dupuis had 20. Add in Jussi Jokinen this season as well as the growth of some young forwards and it’s very conceivable that Pittsburgh leads the NHL in goals.
In the past, we have seen a good offense overcome a shoddy defense and mediocre goaltending. However, when that happens, the offense has to be amazing and the Pens – at least on paper – appear to have an amazing offense.
The Case Against The Penguins Winning The Cup:
Lead goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury has been an absolute train wreck in the postseason over the last two seasons. Although he was 16-8 in the 2008-09 playoffs when leading them to the Cup, he’s just 14-16 since. In his last 10 playoff games, he’s allowed a whopping 43 goals. He was so bad last season that the Penguins benched him in favor of 37-year-old veteran Tomas Vokoun. While that strategy might still be on the table later in the year, unfortunately for the Penguins, Vokoun is dealing with blood clots and is now out indefinitely.
The Pens are paying $5 million to Fleury to be their main man and he has to step up. There’s no question he can deliver in the regular season but he’s been a mess in the playoffs. One has to wonder if he’s got some mental hurdles a la Roberto Luongo that he’s unable to overcome at this point. Because of that, there’s no way you can bet this team right now given how poorly he’s looked.
Can the Pens win the Cup in the 2013-14 season? Of course. They have more talent up front than any team in the league and will probably score the most goals. Are they worth the price? Absolutely not. While there are some favorites who are worth the preseason investment, this team is not. There are simply too many flaws.
Goaltending is the big one and that’s Pittsburgh’s chief concern right now. But the Pens offense also disappointed in the Eastern Conference Final against Boston, scoring just two goals in four games. On top of that, there are some concerns on the blue line that have some wondering if maybe it’s the play in front of Fleury – and not solely Fleury – that’s to blame for all of the playoff miscues. At any rate, this team simply isn’t worth the investment with the worst payout among the 30 teams. If they were third, fourth or fifth in line, then maybe. As the absolute favorite, people should look for a more complete team for their sports picks.Check out our NHL Preseason Betting Strategies~