The playoff race is tight and the Penguins really need a victory as they play the Stars tonight. Can Pittsburgh overcome the adversity? See what we think as we provide you with our betting pick.
Face-off is set for 8:30 pm ET tonight at the American Airlines Arena in Dallas, Texas. As expected, Pittsburgh gets the respect with the NHL odds makers as they are listed at -110 odds and the total for the game is 5.5 goals.
No Hope For the Big "D"
Dallas possess an above .500 record and is still in last place in the Central Division. There is virtually no hope that they'll make the post-season unless almost all of the teams fighting it out to make the post-season suddenly collapse. There's just not enough time remaining in the season for Dallas to make a playoff run. Nonetheless, this will be no cakewalk for Pittsburgh. As bad as Dallas' defense is, they still average 3.1 goals per game.
There's no confirmation as of yet, but I expect a Marc-Andre Fluery vs. Kari Lehtonen matchup between the pipes tonight. Pittsburgh needs their best in net and Fluery is just that. That said, he was terrible in his last outing, a 5-1 loss at the hands of the Detroit Red WIngs. Fluery only stopped 12 out of 16 shots and had to be relieved. One poor effort shouldn't shake the confidence of a goaltender of his caliber. For the season, Fluery is 31-15-7 with a 2.23 GAA.
For the Stars, Kari Lehtonen has been a mere average goalie, but thanks to the offensive support that he gets, his record is better than it should be.
For the season, Lehtonen is allows nearly 3 goals per game and has a record of 29-14-10. In the month of March, Lehtonen is 4-1 with a SV% of just .904. Despite his most recent performance, Marc-Andre Fleury is the much better goalie. Pittsburgh just needs to get their offense going to win tonight.
Pittsburgh is down to 15th in the league at 2.8 goals per game, but this is a team that flourishes on the power-play and plays good defense (2.4 goals allowed) and that's helped them be a winning hockey club.
Sid the Kid
Pittsburgh will be without 2 of their top goal scorers in Evgeni Malkin and Patric Hornqvist. This is the type of game that Sidney Crosby needs to show why he's one of the all-time greats.
He was a highly touted player when he first came to the NHL. People thought that he could be as good as Gretzky and Lemieux, but Crosby has had to endure a bunch of injuries and just hasn't gotten to that level. That said, 840 points in 615 games is nothing to be disappointed about.
Crosby still leads the Pens with 71 points this season. He's more of a set up man than a goal scorer at 23 goals and 48 assists. Pittsburgh will need his best tonight and as of late, Crosby has been very productive. He has 9 points in his last 8 games and in his only meeting against Dallas, Crosby scored a goal. Expect Crosby to have a huge game. Dallas' defense is like Swiss Cheese and the urgency is there for the Penguins to pick up 2 points in a game like this.
Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn
The Stars are led by the combination of Jamie Benn (23 goals, 41 assists) and Tyler Seguin (32 goals, 30 assists in 60 games). Both players excel on the power play and if healthy Seguin is the go to guy on this club.
In his last 5 games, Seguin has 3 goals and in his first meeting against Pittsburgh, he scored a goal. While Benn is the more physical player that will commit the penalties, Seguin is the most aggressive player offensively on as his 239 shots on goal in just 60 games indicate. Seguin is also very young and will only get better. Dallas is in a fantastic spot tonight.
Even though they have very little to play for, I'm going to side with the Stars for my NHL Pick as the Penguins are short-handed and the odds are appealing.
NHL Pick- Dallas -110 at The Greek