The Pens are sitting pretty in the Eastern Conference at present, but the fact that a clutch of their players are Olympics bound might prove to be an unwanted distraction ahead of their first of two away games when they travel to LA on Thursday night. LA could just be the place to banish thoughts of Olympic games as the Kings are in a right mire at the minute. Your Humble Handicapper sees this game as an ideal money spinner.
Enough with the Olympics…WHERE’S THE MONEY MIKE?
Without any further ado let’s take a look at who the bookies think will take this game. The simple answer is that the bookies aren’t hugely confident in either team winning his one. The Pens are offered up at -110 and the Kings are at -105. The “including a draw” odds are a bit more tempting with the Kings at +154, the Pens at +150 and the draw at 290.
The Pens (37-14-2) seem to be having a mini-wobble on the road at present, they were shut out for just the third time all season in their latest road game. That ended 3-0 to Dallas last Saturday, but they bounced back in style (at home) by beating Buffalo by the same score on Monday.
Looking at the Pittsburgh players, two names stood out on the Dallas game, Crosby and Fleury. Crosby made two assists while Marc-Andre Fleury made 24 saves in his (NHL-leading) 29th victory.
I feel that we won’t see another clean sheet from Fleury as the Pens have allowed 3 goals per game (on average) in their last ten, in their first 43 it was 2.21 per game.
Bet on goals
Still, the sportsbooks reckon there will be goals and your Humble Handicapper agrees. The shortest odds on either side winning to nil are on the Kings coming out 2-0 victors at +3900. The Kings have scored just twice in their last four games, but the bookies seem them finding the back of the net on Thursday night. You might think this will be a low scoring game as the Kings (30-19-6) are 1-5-1 in their last seven and went down by (that score) 3-0 away to Phoenix on Tuesday. That defeat was the last of an eight-game stretch (in just 13 days) on the road that also included a(nother) 3-0 loss, on Saturday to Anaheim at the Dodger Stadium.
Could the Pens win 3-0?
The Pens winning by the same score is offered up at +3900 and is certainly worth a loose change bet. The best NHL odds on the correct score foresee a close game and no clear winner in regulation. The bookies like 2-2 and 3-3 before they like any other scores. All the twos are at +900 and all the threes are at +1300.
If you smell a winner it might well not be the Kings. While it’s woe on the road home at Staples Center hasn't been much better for the Kings this month - they've scored just once in three of their last four at home. Some of the blame for this can be laid at door of their schedule. They’ve endured games against St. Louis, Boston, San Jose and Anaheim twice in the past two weeks.
Before making your NHL picks it’s worth noting that the last time these sides played and the last time they played at the Staples, we saw a 3-2 Pittsburgh shootout win.
Prediction: Pens win again (only in regulation) 3-1 available at best odds of +1900 at 888.sport