A Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks matchup might seem like a Stanley Cup final preview. Who’s the best choice on the NHL betting lines on Sunday, then?
The Pittsburgh Penguins Can Win Because…
They’re playing better of late. Yes, they had been slumping in January but they’ve been much more effective since the All-Star break. It’s possible that all they needed was a little rest. Overall, the Pens have won four of five and are playing well at both ends of the ice. They have scored an average of 3.00 goals per game in that span and given up just 2.0. Better yet has been goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who has been very sharp of late. He’s allowed just one goal in his last three games and won four of his last five starts overall.
Chicago just doesn’t look quite right as they did get the win versus New Jersey on Friday but they really cut it close. They were trailing 1-0 late into the third period before they finally woke up and won 3-1. And even with that win, they’ve lost four of their last six at home, which is quite disappointing. If you’ve been laying juice on the Blackhawks in those spots, you’ve lost a mini fortune.
Pittsburgh is the more reliable team right now, so stick with them in terms of your NHL picks.
The Chicago Blackhawks Can Win Because…
They’re finally showing some signs of life. Yes, they’ve basically been a .500 team since the start of the New Year but they’ve been much more competent in February. They are 3-0-2 in their last five games and while that doesn’t mean much to bettors, it does mean that they’ve been competitive.
Chicago seems to play to the level of their competition as they’ve slumped against some non-playoff teams like Arizona, Minnesota, San Jose, Los Angeles and Dallas (in their last six losses) but they’ve still beat playoff teams like St. Louis, Winnipeg, Anaheim and Pittsburgh within their last six wins too.
Home-ice advantage should be a big factor here as Pittsburgh is far more successful at home (18-8-3) than on the road (14-7-5) while the Blackhawks are the same. They’re pretty rugged at home (17-7-3) compared to when they’re not at the United Center (17-11-1). That could be the difference in this one.
NHL betting fans have a tough game to handicap here as both teams are among the league’s elite. The Pens are playing better but the Blackhawks tend to rise up for big showdowns, so it’s tough to bet against them here. Instead, I’ll go with the under in this spot as Fleury has been playing well in net. As for the Blackhawks, they give up just 2.22 goals per game at home, which is the eight-best number in the NHL. Go under in this one.
NHL Pick: Under at The Greek