NHL Picks: Bet Penguins -219 to Continue Their Dominance Against Maple Leafs

Swinging Johnson

Saturday, October 17, 2015 5:41 PM UTC

Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015 5:41 PM UTC

Both teams notched their first victory on the young season heading into this clash in Pittsburgh but the NHL odds makers are making the home team overwhelming favorites. The question is - are they worth it?

Toronto Maple Leafs (1-2-1)
The Maple Leafs have a new coach in Mike Babcock but unfortunately that new beginning behind the bench has not translated into success in front of it. Toronto registered its first victory of the year in their last outing over Columbus by the score of 6-3 after losing 5-4 in a shootout to Ottawa in the previous game. In what is being billed as a rebuilding year after a spectacularly disappointing 2014-2015 campaign in which the team recorded only 68 points the Maple Leafs shipped top star Phil Kessel to Pittsburgh where they will be seeing him for the first time since the trade in July.

Though the name Daniel Winnik is not a household name anywhere, save for fans of the Maple Leafs, he was traded to Pittsburgh last season for Zach Sill and a second and fourth round draft much to the chagrin of his adoring fans. Fortunately the fan favorite had only last year left on his contract and opted to return to his roots in Toronto much to the delight of the partisans in Toronto. Winnik was instrumental in Toronto's first victory last night as he contributed three assists in the 6-3 win over the Blue Jackets.


Pittsburgh Penguins (1-3-0)
The Penguins certainly have their share of superstars but all that talent has not translated into postseason success. The Pittsburgh brass is hoping that by adding another gunslinger into the mix it will help them get over the hump. That gunslinger is of course former Maple Leaf Phil Kessel who has been placed on a line with Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz. Until now the Penguins top unit has been ineffective and was even held off the scoreboard Thursday night in their 2-0 blanking of Ottawa. Kessel has a goal and an assist through the first four games but those are the only points attributed to Pittsburgh's first line.

Another place the Penguins can improve dramatically is their power play. Over the course of 12 man-advantage situations the Pens have yet to score. One would think that with the embarrassment of offensive riches the Penguins have that goals with the man-advantage would come easily. It has not been the case so far but the defense and veteran goaltender Marc Andre-Fleury have done an admirable job keeping the puck out of the net albeit with the occasional soft goals that drive Penguins fans crazy. The Penguins rank 8th in goals allowed surrendering only two per game.

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Betting Analysis
Toronto's Jonathan Bernier will make his first start between the pipes since he was yanked in the game against Detroit after surrendering three goals on 12 shots. Bernier is 0-3-2 with a 3.55 goals-against average in his five starts against the Pens. Pittsburgh has won five straight in the series and six of seven at home over the Maple Leafs.

Though Toronto has a solid defensive corps it is just no match for this Penguins juggernaut if it hits top gear. The depth throughout as well as some of the most skilled players on the planet all dressed in one uniform make this a team that should not only handle the elite teams but crush the weaker ones and that includes the Toronto Maple Leafs.

It is not often I advise laying north of -200 in NHL odds but sometimes there is no value in a big underdog so why be contrarian for the sake of being contrarian? Makes no sense to get plenty of juice only to tear up a ticket just because it would have paid off well. Woulda, shoulda coulda doesn't do it for me when choosing my NHL picks and won't do it for you which is why I am advising a play on the Penguins tonight.

NHL Picks: Play Pittsburgh -219 at BetOnline

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