Penguins Can Win Because…
They haven’t played their best game as of yet. James Neal and Chris Kunitz have yet to register a point while Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have yet to score. That’s not likely to continue.
In Game 2, the Pens were one-for-eight on the power play, which is unusual for them. After all, we’re talking about the team that was the best in the NHL in that category in the regular season. Not only that, they’ve given up shorthanded goals in each of the first two games.
Look for the Pens stars to wake up and expect them to be better on special teams. They haven’t brought out their ‘A’ game yet but it’s coming.
The Columbus Blue
Jackets Can Win Because…
They’ve held their own with Pittsburgh through two games. They’ve managed to shut down the Pens biggest stars – other than Sidney Crosby – and they’ve been able to dictate the pace. In both contests, the game was a tight affair in the third period. That’s what the Blue Jackets want. Pittsburgh would rather a high-scoring, back-and-forth affair but the Blue Jackets aren’t allowing that to happen.
This is a young team that’s gaining confidence by the day. Originally deemed one of the weakest 16 teams in the playoffs, the Blue Jackets not only won Game 2 in Pittsburgh but believe they could have won Game 1 as well. The Pens are much weaker on the road, so the Blue Jackets are going to be pretty confident that they can protect their home ice in Games 3 and 4.
Outlook & Pick
Just like last year, it looks like the Pens aren’t taking their first-round opponent seriously just yet. Expect that to change. On the road in Game 3, it will be a different story for Columbus who now faces some pressure to deliver. They aren’t familiar with this role so well. Take the Pens with your NHL picks to cash as a small road favorite.
Pick: Penguins -118 at Pinnacle