According to current NHL betting odds the Penguins are a favorite of -185 on the money-line and the total is 5.5. The puck-line shows Pittsburgh -1.5 (+165). Despite finishing 24-points ahead of the Devils a season ago the Penguins lost 3 of the 4 games between these two clubs in 2013. Which of these teams will make for better NHL picks in tonight's match?
Season Opening Streak Snapped for Brodeur
For the first time in 19 season openers Martin Brodeur will not be the starting goaltender for the Devils. The future franchise goalie Corey Schneider gets the nod after Brodeur missed extensive practice time last week due to the death of his father. The Devils lost 2 of their top 3 scorers from a season ago in David Clarkson and Ilya Kolvachuk. However, they did sign free agents Jaromir Jagr, Michael Ryder, Ryane Clowe and Rostislav Olesz. Although the Devils front office staff thinks they can still be a playoff contender as a result of the new acquisitions I’m not on board with their opinion.
Penguins Picking Up the Pieces
Pittsburgh had a terrific 2013 regular season only to see that come crashing down in a 4-game sweep at the hands of the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. The biggest enigma for the Penguins a season ago was their goaltending and that concern is far from alleviated. Marc Andre Fleury clearly lost his confidence in last season’s playoffs and needs to regain the form which was once so promising. He’ll enter the season as the #1 option since Thomas Vokoun is out with a blood clot. The backup is rookie Jeff Zatkoff who’s never played in a NHL game. The Penguins still remain as one of the most dynamic and skilled offensive teams in the NHL.
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With the uncertainty in goal for both teams on opening night we could see the lamp light quite a bit in this contest. The Penguins love to play an offensive free-wheeling style and are very good at dictating the tempo of a game to their opponents. The Devils newcomers up front will be inspired to come up with a solid effort, and they certainly will get their share of chances in this one versus an opponent who takes a lot of chances in order to create more offense. My lean is to go over the total in this contest for my sports picks.
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